Team Worker Watched Pitcher Snort Drugs on Night He Died: Testimony

Angels' Tyler Skaggs died in his hotel room in 2019
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 7, 2020 3:32 PM CDT
Updated Feb 15, 2022 5:46 AM CST
Pitcher Got Lethal Fentanyl From Team Employee: Charges
Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels gestures toward a photo of Tyler Skaggs on the stadium wall in Anaheim last summer.   (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

(Newser) Update: A former Los Angeles Angels employee accused of providing the opioids that contributed to Tyler Skaggs' overdose death told a colleague he watched the Angels pitcher do drugs the night before he was found dead in a suburban Dallas hotel room, according to testimony Monday in his trial. Eric Prescott Kay, who faces charges of drug distribution and drug conspiracy, confided in Adam Chodzko about two weeks after Skaggs’ 2019 death that he was in Skaggs’ room, Chodzko testified. Kay told Chodzko he turned down an offer from Skaggs to take drugs with him, Chodzko testified. Kay had just returned to the team from a stint in drug rehab and was one of Chodzko's subordinates on the Angels’ public relations staff at the time. Kay said he saw three lines of drugs on a table and watched Skaggs snort them before leaving the room, according to Chodzko, who is now the Angels' director of communications. Our original story from Aug. 7, 2020, follows:

A former Los Angeles Angels employee has been charged with providing fentanyl to a player who died in his hotel room after taking it last year. Tyler Skaggs, 27, a pitcher, was found dead on a team road trip to Texas. A criminal complaint that includes a conspiracy charge says Eric Kay, who was the team's communications director at the time, supplied the drug to Skaggs, the Wall Street Journal reports. He surrendered to authorities on Friday, according to the Los Angeles Times. An autopsy found the death was an accident, after the player had ingested alcohol, oxycodone, and fentanyl. If Skaggs hadn't had the fentanyl, the complaint filed in Fort Worth says, he'd have survived. Text messages show Skaggs asking Kay to bring pills to his hotel room, per NBC. The complaint accused Kay, who has been arrested, of providing drugs to others, as well.

The Angels said they commissioned their own investigation, which found "unacceptable behavior inconsistent with our code of conduct." The team's statement said it "confirmed that no one in management was aware, or informed, of any employee providing opioids to any player, nor that Tyler was using opioids." US Attorney Nealy Cox said fighting the spread of fentanyl is a priority for the Justice Department: "Tyler Skaggs's overdose—coming, as it did, in the midst of an ascendant baseball career—should be a wakeup call: No one is immune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet." Major League Baseball has begun testing players regularly for opioids since Skaggs' death. (Read more opioids stories.)

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