Drug suspect dies after swallowing bag

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A New Kensington man who was being pursued by police died Saturday after he was witnessed swallowing a plastic bag that is suspected of containing illegal drugs.

A spokesman for the Allegheny County medical examiner said Curtis Patterson, 40, died of asphyxiation at 3:05 a.m. Saturday at the Alle-Kiski Medical Center, Natrona Heights. The death was ruled accidental.

The medical examiner's spokesman said death occurred because Mr. Patterson was witnessed by police swallowing a plastic bag containing a substance believed to be illegal drugs. The bag obstructed his trachea, the spokesman said, and Mr. Patterson suffocated.

Earlier Saturday, Mr. Patterson had been pursued by police from various departments including Brackenridge, East Deer, New Kensington and Tarentum. The reason for the pursuit is unclear as police could not be reached for comment.

When he finally was stopped, police witnessed him swallowing the plastic bag, the medical examiner's spokesman said. The contents of the bag have yet to undergo lab analysis but authorities suspected illegal drugs.


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