FOUNTAIN VALLEY — A 34-year-old man, who had led police on a high-speed chase that ended when he jumped into a flood control channel, apparently died of a combination of hypothermia and drug use, authorities said Sunday.
Fountain Valley Police Lt. Robert Mosley said an autopsy Sunday showed that Richard John O'Gorman of Huntington Beach had two collapsed lungs, which might have resulted from a mix of heroin in his body and exposure to the cold water. Police said they found a hypodermic needle and fresh blood in his car, and that relatives told them he was a heroin addict undergoing treatment.
"It appears he had injected himself with some kind of narcotic just prior to the pursuit," Mosley said. "But the actual cause of death probably won't be known for six weeks, when the coroner issues a report."
The incident started shortly before 10:30 p.m. Saturday when an officer saw a car without headlights driving at a high rate of speed in a parking lot at Los Amigos High School, police said. The driver fled, leading three squad cars and a police helicopter on an 80-m.p.h. chase through Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach.