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Nursing home resident found dead from cocaine overdose

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BATON ROUGE- A bizarre case involving a man's deadly overdose of cocaine while living at a nursing home has been turned over to police, the WBRZ Investigative Unit learned.

Darold McCray, 42, was found dead in his room at Jefferson Manor Nursing Home on Jefferson Highway in April.  His family just recently met with the coroner's office over the incident.

Family members are concerned over McCray being able to obtain and abuse cocaine while in the care of a nursing home and the man's cause of death being ruled as unrelated to the drug usage at first.

It wasn't until McCray's body was transferred to the coroner's office in West Baton Rouge that medical examiners determined drugs caused McCray's death.

McCray's remains were passed to another coroner because medical experts in EBR assumed McCray's death was related to a gunshot wound he sustained twenty years ago on the west side of the Mississippi River.  MCray's injuries resulted in him needing round-the-clock care from a nursing home and was living at Jefferson Manor.

Because the Baton Rouge medical team tied his death to the gunshot injury, an autopsy was performed in West Baton Rouge.  It was the WBR coroner who determined the cocaine overdose through a toxicology report. 

McCray's mother, Bonnie, is perplexed and is grieving over such strange sequences of events.

"When I walked into the room, he's lying there dead," Bonnie said in tears. "He was lying there dead. He was lying there dead, and I was holding him there in my arms crying and embracing him."

East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Dr. Beau Clark said his investigators had no reason to believe anything was suspicious since there were no drugs visible in the nursing home room where McCray was found.

"That doctor signed the death as a natural death based on a heart attack," Clark said. "I'm not sure where [the attending doctor who signed the death notice] got that information but that was his decision on this case...we were in the midst of an investigation."

"The law tells us to send it to West Baton Rouge Parish," Clark maintained since that is where McCray was shot twenty years ago. 

The East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner's Office did not perform an autopsy.  The initial death certificate was signed by a doctor not tied to the coroner's office in Baton Rouge who somehow got involved after McCray was found dead at the nursing home. 

Requests for information from Jefferson Manor Nursing Home about how McCray may have been able to obtain cocaine and the doctor's relationship were ignored.

"They are allowing this kind of thing to go on in a nursing home," Bonnie, the man's mother, said. "This is crazy. It's really crazy. How could you not know what's going on?"

The doctor in West Baton Rouge found the amount of cocaine killed McCray within 15 to 30 minutes of him using it. 


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