Drug toxicity cause of New Year’s death

Published 9:30 pm Monday, June 11, 2012

The death of a woman found in a Washington hotel room on New Year’s Day has been attributed to a fatal combination of cocaine and alcohol.

Christina Ball Sutton was discovered alone in a Hampton Inn hotel room by the hotel manager on the first day of 2012. According to the autopsy report, there were no outward signs of trauma though the deceased had been moved before Washington police officers arrived at the scene.

While there was no evidence of foul play, the autopsy of the 29-year-old woman was inconclusive and toxicology tests performed.

The conclusion was that a high concentration of ethanol, cocaine, and cocaethylene, a highly toxic byproduct formed in the body by the interaction of cocaine and alcohol, was the cause of Sutton’s death.

The combination is thought to produce a more euphoric feeling, lasting longer than cocaine alone, but cocaethylene has been proven cardiotoxic—causing damage to the heart muscles and potentially leading to acute cardiovascular events.

When WPD officers found the body, a white substance was found in the victim’s mouth, on the body, and on the bed of the hotel room, according to the autopsy report. Alcohol was also present in the room.

Sutton was last heard from at 11:35 p.m. New Year’s Eve, when she used the hotel owner’s cell phone to call her mother to let her know Sutton would be staying in Washington for the night, said the report. The hotel owner’s key card was the only card used to access the room on the night of Sutton’s death.