Drug didn't contribute to Orinda teen's death

September 14, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A prescription drug found in the body of an Orinda teen did not contribute to his death after all.

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Sixteen-year-old Joe Loudon died at a party last May. Police announced alcohol and a rare prescription drug contributed to his death, but now Loudon's family knows that's not true.

"The fact that nobody talked among each other, the coroner, the sheriff and the police chief, they gotta get their team together over there," Loudon's uncle Tom Payne said.

The family of Orinda teen Joe Loudon says a letter from the Northern California Transplant Bank has further undermined their faith in the police agencies investigating the teenager's death at a party last May.

"Initially, right from the start, he was pegged as a binge drinker and that didn't pan out and then they made him a drug addict, based on this, and then that didn't pan out either," Payne said.

In July, Orinda police announced the Contra Costa County coroner had found the drug papaverine in Loudon's system and that it had contributed to the boy's death. But according to the letter sent to Loudon's mother, Marianne Payne, the papaverine was actually administered after her son died, by the Northern California Transplant Bank.

"The finding of papaverine is directly related to the NCTB's procedures," transplant bank Executive Director Allen Brown wrote, "during the process of retrieving vessels for donation."

Loudon was found unconscious at a house party on Memorial Day weekend. The coroner determined the popular Miramonte High School student choked on his own vomit. Besides the papaverine only, a small amount of alcohol, .03 percent, was found in Loudon's blood.

"As far as where we're from, the real cause of death was neglect, the fact that nobody revived him, that kids that were at the party didn't call 911," Payne said.

ABC7 contacted Orinda police, Contra Costa sheriffs, the coroner and district attorney and none would comment about whether the source of the papaverine changes their investigation.

Officials at the northern Northern California Transplant Bank also ignored numerous requests for comment.

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