Report: Illegal drugs not in man’s system |

Report: Illegal drugs not in man’s system

A 19-year-old man’s cause of death in December remains undetermined after his toxicology report turned up no clues, according to the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office.

The toxicology of Michael Joe Smith showed no traces of illegal drugs, such as methamphetamine, opiates or unprescribed marijuana, Sheriff Keith Royal said Wednesday. The prescription painkiller Percodan was detected, but was “within therapeutic levels,” the sheriff added.

Smith, who was born in Grass Valley and worked at Paulette’s Country Kitchen in Glenbrook Basin, died Dec. 4 at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital. According to a sheriff’s reported based on what Smith’s friends told investigators, he had been drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana with friends three days earlier.

The morning after they allegedly partied, Smith’s friends couldn’t rouse him at a Greenhorn Road home of one friend, and they rushed him to the hospital, Royal said.

“I knew Michael from Paulette’s, and he was a very nice young man,” the sheriff said. “It’s just an unfortunate tragedy.”

In the headline in its Dec. 6 edition, The Union erroneously claimed that the death was the result of an overdose.

John Seelmeyer, managing editor of the newspaper, said Wednesday, “That headline clearly was in error. At the time, no one knew the cause of Mr. Smith’s death. Those of us who work in The Union newsroom profoundly regret the sorrow we caused this young man’s family, and none regret it more than the editors who wrote and approved this headline.”

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