Following are excerpts from the news conference held in Baltimore yesterday by Maryland Medical Examiner John E. Smialek concerning the death of Leonard Bias.
Smialek: Leonard Bias died of cocaine intoxication. This interrupted normal electrical control of his heartbeat, which resulted in sudden onset of seizures and cardiac arrest. The toxicological study we did in addition to the cocaine analysis showed no alcohol or other drugs in his body at the time of death.
Does that mean Bias consumed a large amount of cocaine, more than most users normally take in?
. . . Comparing it to other cocaine fatalities we've had in this office . . . his cocaine concentration was approximately average.
Could this have been his first encounter with cocaine?
That is possible, yes.
Would a delay of 15 to 20 minutes in calling a medic to the scene . . . have been crucial in saving his life?
. . . Once a cardiac arrest occurs and the heart is unable to pump blood to the brain, and that brain is deprived of oxygen, it only takes four to five minutes for irreversible brain damage to occur.
How many lines or grams of cocaine are equal to 6.5 milligrams ?
I can't tell you how a line of cocaine would translate into a blood concentration in an individual . . . .
Was there any evidence of previous heart damage or defect?
. . . Bias had a large heart, which was not unexpected given his tremendous muscular development. But in carefully analyzing sections of his heart muscle there was no evidence of damage at all. Leonard Bias was a very healthy individual.
The cocaine killed him, period?
Can you tell how he ingested it?
It would be my opinion that it was snorted.
Can you tell whether he was a long-term user?
There is no evidence of long-term use.
How would that normally show up?
There could be changes in mucous membranes in his body. There was no evidence of that.
Can you tell from your examination over what period of time the cocaine might have been ingested?
. . . It would be a very rapid reaction that the drug would have on the central nervous system to produce the seizures . . . . It could have been seconds or minutes.
Would you refer to it as an overdose?
. . . This particular concentration might not kill another individual. On the other hand, another individual could die at a lower level.
Is it as simple as here's this young guy, he signs an NBA contract , he goes out to celebrate, he has too much cocaine and it literally kills him -- it's just that simple?
That's exactly right. It's very simple.