Seven truck drivers were found dead in and around San
Antonio truck stops in recent months, but so far investigators do not believe
those deaths were linked.?
Some mainstream media had reported that "bad" drugs were to
blame for the rash of deaths. And although drugs were found to be the cause of
death for a couple found dead in their truck, no link has been found in the
other five truckers' deaths.
An official with the medical examiner's office told Land Line Magazine that toxicology
reports indicate that four of the truckers died from heart problems. These may
just be a coincidence, said Bexar County Chief Toxicologist Rod McCutcheon.
In fact, the case has been closed in the suspicious deaths
of two truckers found at a Petro Stopping Center on Ackerman Road on Nov. 1,
2006, after toxicology reports confirmed that Harry Ackroyd, 35, and his
common-law wife, Michelle (McLean) Ackroyd, 32, died "accidentally of
methamphetamine intoxication," according to Wanda Austin of the Bexar County
Medical Examiner's Office.
No further investigation into the Ackroyds' deaths is
planned, Bexar County Public Information Officer Joe Rios said.
"As the autopsies come back - they close out each case," he
said. "In the Ackroyds' case, it was 'cleared by exception,' meaning these
people died after ingesting these drugs purposefully."
Rios said unfortunately, he sees this happen in a profession
where drivers try to push themselves too far in order to meet their deadlines.
"Instead of driving eight hours and sleeping for eight
hours, some will try to drive 24 hours straight to make their runs," he said.
Rios said that although a man was questioned in connection
with the possibility of laced drugs being sold in and around San Antonio truck
stops, he said the man was found not to have any knowledge of the case and was
later released. No one else has been taken in for questioning in the case and
Rios said no plans currently exist to further investigate who may have sold
methamphetamine to the Ackroyds.
Austin said it may be a few more weeks before the toxicology
report is available in the case of the most recent trucker found dead at a San
Antonio truck stop, which could possibly link three of the deaths. Byron
Gonzalez, 42, was found dead in his truck on Nov. 23, 2006, at the same Petro
where the Ackroyds' bodies were discovered earlier in the month.
In recent months, the bodies of four other truckers were
found in and around San Antonio truck stops. Autopsy reports in all four of
these cases attributed their deaths to heart-related conditions and toxicology
reports showed no traces of drugs, including methamphetamine, according to
Austin. In most of the cases, tests were done to see if carbon monoxide was
present in the blood. In those tested, all came back negative for carbon
monoxide poisoning, she said.
Chief Toxicologist McCutcheon said he couldn't talk about
the specifics involved in the recent cases, but he said comprehensive toxicology
reports are conducted every time a body is brought in because of an "unexpected
death" or when there is no apparent or "official" cause of death.
"Routinely, we do a comprehensive evaluation in these cases
to see if any drugs are present," McCutcheon said. "Methamphetamine is one of
the drugs we would be able to detect through this process if the drug is
present in significant concentrations. Routine blood analysis is done on all
bodies that have no known initial cause of death."
When questioned as to whether there has been a noticeable
increase in accidental deaths because of methamphetamine intoxication in the
San Antonio area in recent months, Rios said he didn't know, because accidental
deaths aren't something his department is required by the FBI Uniform Crime
Reporting program to track.
McCutcheon said he couldn't provide statistics on the number
of accidental deaths caused by methamphetamine intoxication in Bexar County in
recent months, but said he has seen more accidental deaths attributed to
overdoses of cocaine and heroin, rather than methamphetamine overdoses.
- By Clarissa
Kell-Holland, staff writer