Friday, March 23, 2012

Childhood dreams come true.

For a while when I was a teen, I thought I would be a coroner, albeit a slacker coroner, and not do autopsies. Instead, I'd just announce that every stiff that metaphorically crossed my desk was caused by "lack of oxygen to the brain" since, you know, that's pretty much what causes dead people.

It appears that the LA County coroner and I are on the same page, here, with his announcement in Whitney Houston's death...
Whitney Houston died from an accidental drowning in a hotel bathtub, but the "effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use" were contributing factors in her death
This could be fun! Here, let me try that:
Rummy McSotted died from the catastrophic impact of his head against the tree trunk. "effects of a .29% BAC and the empty Jack Daniels bottle wedged behind the brake pedal" were listed as contributing factors.
Okay, now it's y'all's turn! Go wild!


Stranger said...

Reminds me of a soldat at Fort Sill. He wrecked his 4X4 and told the MP's the dam drunk tree jumped out in front of his truck.

I will let you embroider it any way you want to - the rest is unfit for polite company.


Unknown said...

ooh, let me try!

K-Dawg and JoJo died of heart conditions, but the "effects of several .40-caliber jacketed hollowpoints and unlicensed pharmaceutical distribution activity" were contributing factors in their deaths.

Anonymous said...

We get to try? Ok, here's mine:

"We have determined that Keith Richards died from a lack of controlled substances and Jack Daniels in his blood."

Shootin' Buddy

the gripping hand said...

Lord knows I hate to criticize a good snark, but the problem is probably not the coroner's report but the reporting in the paper. Most coroners are required to state the medical cause of death, and then list the contributing factors. If someone smashed into a tree while drunk, the cause of death would be (probably) listed as blunt-force trauma with the BAC listed as a contributing factor. Its the difference between proximate cause and ultimate cause. The coroner needs to specify the proximate cause, which it appears this guy did. If Houston had croaked due to a heart attack instead of drowning, the report probably would have listed myocardial infarction with cocaine as the contributing factor. Doesn't change the fact that she killed herself with drugs and wasted a spectacular talent.

mikee said...

My brother is a sport parachutist who delights in base jumping, that is, leaping from cliffs or buildings or bridges instead of using a boring old airplane to gain altitude for the jump.

He has seen several people augur in, and he uniformly describes their deaths as "good jumps, bad landings."

"Jamie leapt off the cliff, and had a good jump, but could not get his chute open in time. He mad a bad landing, and broke every bone in his body."

Miguel said...

Mike, I heard another jumper describe it as "It is not the fall that kills you but the sudden rate of deceleration upon reaching the ground"

the pawnbroker said...

Mr. C. Boy died late Saturday as a result of proximity.*

0.4 in. perforations were a contributing factor.

*to Ray-Ray :)

Bram said...

The contributing factors in my reports would always be "stupidity attributed to the continuing de-evolution of early-modern humans".

Bubblehead Les. said...

"...the Coroner ruled today that the death of Thaddeus "Mall" McNinja was caused by Heart Failure, exacerbated by the presence of 30 5.56 Nato 62 Grain bullets lodged in the Heart. In his Statement, the Coroner speculated that Mr. McNinja's attempted to clear a Jam by pressing the Muzzle to his chest and pressing the Trigger with both thumbs, all while having his Customized Tactikool Multi-Railed AR pressed to the ground with a "Bump Stick" attached to the stock. The event occurred while running a Demonstration using his newly acquired "Bump Stick" to a Class of Students at his privately owned Shooting School, "Zombie Apocalypse Defense Training Academy." Mr. McNinja is survived by his Mother. No Wife or Girlfriend or Children has known to have been found as this story goes to Press."

og said...

Tupac Sawraps died from sudden unexpected blood loss. "effects of multiple bullet impacts to the head and chest, often known as a 'mozambique'" were listed as contributing factors.

Anonymous said...

John Brown died of injuries sustained landing on a concrete slab after a 25 story fall from the penthouse he owned.

Contributing factors: pants around ankles, consorting with paid entertainment, various drugs (see Addenda), very high blood alchohol, engaging in risky business practices of the extra legal sort and not paying his bookie and suppliers. A certain lack of understanding of consequences and of imagination are also noted.

(reminds me of my favorite CSI episode where buddy gets stabbed, electrocuted, shot, beaten, and etc... and dies when the chair he sits down in collapses and hi drowns in the pool. Cause of death: "Misadventure". Coroners LIVE for lines like that.)

Justthisguy said...

I have never had a bottle under the brake pedal, but as everyone knows who has ever had a kitteh and taken him for a ride, teh kitteh always secretes hisself under the brake pedal, giving his human the choice of squashing the cat or dying in a crash.

Anonymous said...


You don't need a parachute to skydive. need a parachute to skydive TWICE.

Critter said...

early soviet paratroopers were not issued parachutes, but the planes came in low and slow and they were instructed to "find a soft place to land, such as a tree or snow bank." if one survived one's first jump one was promoted to sergeant.

lumpy said...

Waiting for LA to ban bath tubs. For the safety of the starlets.

Sport Pilot said...

Mr. YM GI died as a result of blunt trauma occurring as his CR M/C left a residential roadway at high speed, crossed a residential front yard and impacting a large oak tree. Impact with the tree lead to his heart exiting the thoracic cavity and being expelled upon the yard, alongside his cranium also separated by impact. Said victims loss of M/V control was due to excessive speed for roadway with limited streetlights in place as well as a BAC of .23. No charges have been filed due to the demise of the perpetrator/victim.

Stretch said...

The deaths of 2/3 of Congress has been attributed to a buildup of Ego due to a power outage.
Without power the C-Span cameras and microphones were unable to vent excess Ego.
One power was restored the remaining 1/3 of Congress formed a Joint Bi-partisan Power Investigative Committee.

Goober said...

I guess I don't see anything wrong with his report. The cause of death is the cause of death. If it was drowning, then that is what he has to put down. I actually think that he was ballsy to put in the contributory reasons for the drowning like he did. I think that given his responsibilities and the process of his job, he got as editorial about it as he could. She drowned. That is, actually, what killed her. HOW she drowned is the topic at hand, but that isn't the coroner's responsibility to determine.

Tam said...


I know, but I was trying to be funny here. :o

Brad K. said...

@ Goober,

See, there has been a feeding frenzy waiting for this one.

On one side is the Whitney fandom, that have been wailing and gnashing their teeth, and trying to ignore the drug content of the area/body, over the tragic loss of a talented singer that brought music and wonder to so many.

On the other hand are the ghouls and zombies champing at the bit to decry the way drugs tragically ruined a wonderful life/drugs are demons and we need to punish street corner drug pushers for Whitney's murder. Kind of like executing the car dealer when a customer totals a car when drunk. Hey, if the irresponsible leech didn't sell the drunk the car, the car wouldn't have been available for a drunken crash. Even if it was a police car.

This coroner did well. While Whitney happened to die of drowning, she wouldn't have been under water if she hadn't had a heart attack. Probably, because if the heart attack occurred first, then we don't need to worry about whether the drowning was accidental. Sort of like the one-liner that passed around a few years back, "When I die I want to go peacefully, in my sleep, like my Grandfather did. Not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car."

Now, the cause of the heart attack was speculative, and I think just plain mean. There have been many people with heart attacks and hardening of the artery, some of them younger that Whitney, some that haven't been beaten like a drum for years, and some that haven't even overdone prescription and recreational drugs. Remember that runner guy, Ryan Shay ( or something? That dropped dead of an enlarged heart? They didn't go into the stress and bizarre lifestyle that contributed to the death. (Olympics training doesn't raise beans. One of these two activities will let someone eat something.)

Another line I like is from Collateral, "No, I shot him. Bullets and the fall killed him." After a screamer plummets from a third floor window on the occasion of multiple gunshot sounds.

The coroner could have listed a contributing factor of failing to have an underwater snorkel in her pocket, if she had had pockets at the time, if she hadn't been unconscious. As it is, mentioning all the drugs begs the question of whether she would have been more likely to survive if she hadn't been doing the drugs, or even if the drug level in her at the time was lower or higher than usual for her, when having a heart attack in the tub.

I wonder, if compiling Whitney's legacy, if anyone details the number of romantic fantasies she is responsible for, that kept women in dangerous or fatal relationships, that resulted in unwanted pregnancies. Oh, well, she was an entertainer. Someone else is scalping her music today.

Anonymous said...

I had an eight year career at a large bank. A couple years of that was working in  deceased accounts which means I got to read 40 or 50 death certificates every day. Most are pretty bland, just saying COPD, cancer, heart attack, some car crashes, the usual tragedies that await most of us. We lived for the good ones that would get copied and passed around. Shootings (self-inflicted or otherwise were usually just listed as GSW to (insert perforated part of body). My favorite was a suicide with a firearm where the creative coroner listed the cause of death as “high velocity inter-cranial perforation”.
In a related note, manner of death is usually listed as homicide, accident, or natural causes. I received a death certificate one time from a guy who lost a gunfight with the police. The manner of death was listed as “legal intervention”. For some reason I liked the sound of that. “Sumdood died from  an acute case of legal intervention”, that should happen more often.
Then there were the ones that made even the most jaded of us in squirm. Our most widely distributed one listed an accidental death with the cause being “auto-erotic asphyxiation” and then gave all the gruesome details.  I was handling the account and had several phone conversations with the widow (who discovered the body) as we settled the accounts. It was very uncomfortable for me and I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like for her even though the actual death was never a topic of discussion, just his finances. We actually got one of those every couple of months, but normally they were covered up with euphamism for the sake of delicacy. When a 20’s to 30’s aged guy dies from strangulation in his bedroom or living room or a strange hotel room and it is ruled an accident you don’t have to be Quincy, M.E. to figure out there were dark, unnatural rituals involved.
Biggest bummer was at one point I had several hundred DC’s stacked up on my desk that all said the same thing. Manner of Death: Homicide; Cause of Death: Physical Injuries, body not found. The date of death on all of them was 9/11/2001. I did get a DC from a passenger on Flight 93 that listed the cause of death as “Fragmentation blunt force trauma”. There is a vivid image for you.

Anonymous said...

Cause of Death: Acute Plumbum toxicity reaction, aggrevated by past cases of venereal disease and recurring inability to find his own front door, his own, his own bedroom and his own spouse.

Death initially reported by aggrieved spouse.

Paul Clavet said...

That's not right.

...but it's okay.

Will said...

Great comment from the article:

Come on....Cocaine, Tranquilizers, Muscle relaxers, Alcohol , Pot and a warm relaxing bath ,what kind of mood was she hoping to achieve , death?

Mikael said...

Sort of like the single largest killer of divers is heart attacks. Cause of death of course is drowning.

/diving instructor

Goober said...

Sorry, Tam. Snark meter broken. Friday. Long, shitty week.

Can I say shitty?

jed said...

@Bubblehead Les: Nice one, I only wish I could think of a way to include a tactical wheelbarrow.

The cause of death of the Republic was a lack of oxygen in the brains of most of its populace. Contributing factors include the dumbing down of education, and the celebrity of socialism.

Will said...

Interesting article on this subject from a couple years ago: