City Desk

Man Dies at City Detox Facility

A man died Monday morning while receiving treatment for a drug addiction at a District facility.

Sandy Ethridge, 59, was pronounced dead at Prince George's Hospital Center on the morning of Dec. 15. He had been admitted on Dec. 11 to the Addiction Prevention and Recovery Administration's detox facility on the D.C. General campus, according to sister Annie Holder.

Ethridge, a resident of Potomac Gardens in Capitol Hill, had been sent to detox under a court order, Holder says; he had been admitted to the facility several times before for treatment of drug and alcohol addictions. On Monday morning, according to an account related to Holder by a detective investigating the death, Ethridge was seen by a fellow patient using a needle and syringe to inject drugs in a facility bathroom. When patients were awakened for breakfast a few hours later, according to the account, he was discovered to be unconscious and unresponsive and was taken to the Maryland hospital.

"I said, 'Well, where did he get [the drugs] from?" Holder says.

An investigation into the cause of death is pending, according to the Maryland medical examiner's office. A call to the investigating detective today was not immediately returned.

If Ethridge was indeed determined to have died from a drug overdose, it raises serious questions about security at the APRA facility, which is charged with providing indigent District residents with inpatient addiction treatment. Facility policies require strictly controlled access to the facility and thorough searches of patients upon admittance.

Dr. Pierre Vigilance, head of the District's health department, declined to comment on the specifics of Ethridge's death. "The passing of any client is unfortunate. We take this situation very seriously, and we are in the process of carefully reviewing this matter. Out of respect for our client's privacy we are unable to provide details of his demise at this time."

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