Mark Hinkel, a Lexington, Kentucky lawyer, left, was struck by a black pickup truck and killed while participating in a cycling race last Saturday. The driver of the truck told police he had drunk six beers and smoked marijuana before the crash. When hit, Mr. Hinkel was thrown from his bike onto the windshield of the truck and landed in its bed, bleeding but alive. Apparently unaware that Mr. Hinkel lay mortally wounded in his truck, the driver continued driving for three more miles before being stopped by police. Mr. Hinkel was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. The driver was arrested and charged with murder, driving under the influence, wanton endangerment, leaving the scene of an accident, and fleeing and evading. While this death involved marijuana in combination with alcohol, CBS4 investigative reporter Brian Maass in Denver, Colorado has tracked down several deaths caused by marijuana alone.
Daniel Juarez, right, was a high-school student who died in 2012 after stabbing himself 20 times. He had almost 11 times more THC in his blood than the average found in male marijuana users. Mr. Maass obtained Mr. Juarez’s autopsy report never before made public, which revealed Mr. Juarez had 38.2 nanograms of THC in his blood at the time of his death. The level in Colorado that denotes intoxication is 5 nanograms.
Two marijuana deaths received a fair amount of publicity because they occurred shortly after Colorado implemented legalization in 2014.
Levy Thamba Pongi, left, was a 19-year-old Wyoming college student visiting Denver. Friends said he began acting crazy after eating six times the recommended amount—one-sixth—of a marijuana-infused cookie. He started upending furniture, tipping over lamps, then rushed out to the hotel balcony and jumped to his death. The coroner listed marijuana intoxication as a significant factor in his death. A toxicology report showed he had 7.2 nanograms of THC in his blood.
Kristine Kirk of Denver, right, called 911 to report that her husband was acting erratically after eating marijuana edibles. While on the phone with police, her husband shot and killed her in front of their three children. Mr. Kirk is charged with her murder and has pled not guilty. His lawyer may argue Mr. Kirk was not responsible for his actions due to “involuntary” intoxication, according to news reports.
Brant Clark, left, a 17-year-old Boulder, Colorado high-school student, committed suicide eight years ago. His mother is convinced his death is due to marijuana. She says her son consumed a large amount of marijuana at a party and then suffered a major psychotic break that required emergency care at two hospitals over the next three days. Three weeks later, he took his own life, leaving behind a note that said, “Sorry for what I have done. I wasn’t thinking the night I smoked myself out.”
Tron Doshe, right, returned from a Colorado Rockies game in 2012 but apparently lost his keys. He attempted to climb the outside of his apartment building to reach his balcony but fell to his death, which was ruled an accident. Mr. Maass obtained his autopsy report, which revealed that Mr. Doshe’s THC level was 27.3 nanograms, more than five times Colorado’s legal limit. No other drugs were found in his system.
Luke Goodman, above, a college student who accompanied his family on a skiing vacation to Colorado’s Keystone Resort, bought marijuana edibles in the form of candies. He ate two and nothing happened, so he ate some more. In all, he consumed more than five times the recommended amount. Soon after, he became agitated and incoherent. When family members left the condo, he refused to go with them. Soon after they left, he shot himself and died. His mother said, “It was 100% because of the drugs.” His cousin agreed that ingesting so much marijuana triggered the suicide, saying, “He was the happiest guy in the world. He had everything going for him.” Read the report of Mr. Hinkel’s death here.
Read Brian Maass’s report here.