Coroner: Deerhake did not die from drugs

Contrary to speculation, coroner says death was natural
Alex Green
Jun 7, 2014

A community was devastated when it lost Chris Deerhake on Nov. 10, 2013.

The death was tragic for several reasons, Danbury Township police said, the first being Deerhake was just 22 years old.

Danbury Township police Chief Michael Meisler and his twin, Detective Mark Meisler, have a unique relationship with their 5,000 or so residents who, for the most part, stay safe and abide the law.

So, along with the many community members who knew Deerhake — an avid outdoorsman with an infectious positive attitude — the Meislers were also emotionally affected when they learned of his death.

"It hit the community pretty hard," Mark said. "As a whole we know most people (in Danbury Township). So do the young people and locals. It hit us all hard."

Contrary to speculation at the time and months following, Ottawa County Coroner Daniel Cadigan recently determined Deerhake died of cardiomyopathy: a weakening of the heart muscle.

Attendees of the party Deerhake attended the night of his death said drugs were being passed around as people drank, leading many people to believe Deerhake died from the combination.

The toxicology report revealed Deerhake had non-toxic levels of alcohol and Oxycodone in his system that night, but Cadigan said the substances were not a contributing factor.

It makes the death no easier to comprehend for police, friends and family, however.

And even though Deerhake did not die from the substances that night, according to Cadigan, the drugs were present and it can still serve as an important lesson for kids and young adults, police said.

"Both (alcohol and prescription drugs) slow down the central nervous system," Mark said. "They both act in the same way. Someone who takes both is going to have issues with breathing, and going to slow down brain function. Mainly their breathing slows down (significantly)."

But police don't want a stigma attached to Deerhake, who by all accounts was a commendable person.

Michael joined his brother in somberly reflecting on Deerhake's death.

"It was a tragic instance," Michael said. "It not only affected a good family, it affected our peninsula, and many people."

November 2013 was a difficult month for the Meisler's and the township they serve.

They witnessed two more unexpected deaths later that month when Marblehead resident George Dehil, 76, was killed in a house fire, and Jeffery Sloan, 43, was killed in a one-vehicle car crash.

The Meisler's have since repeatedly said it was the most tragic month in the township's recent history.



we never know when our number is going to be called so enjoy life and be kind to others!


OK, forgive me for the buzz kill. The decedent had oxycodone in his system which is a Schedule II opiate similar to heroin. There is an admission that these drugs were passed around the party. That means somebody was selling or dealing in opiates and committed a felony and person died after consuming the drugs.

Yes, I know Dr. Cadigan, who is not a qualified medical examiner or pathologist but like Dr. Wukie in Sandusky County an elected county coroner, claims the levels of alcohol and oxycodone didn't kill him. The young man had cardiomyopathy and that's what killed him according to Dr. Cadigan.

Of course this is Ottawa County, home to Prosecutor Mark Mulligan and the Ottawa County Drug Task force who only seem to make pot busts but can't find the Rx drugs such as oxycodone, heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine hiding in plain view as this story proves.

No, the fact that it is now policy in many Ohio law enforcement agencies to prosecute the sellers of unlawful drugs that end up having a role in a person's death for murder had nothing to do with Dr. Cadigan's finding because after all the oxycodone had nothing to do with his death and the people at the party meant well and are popular. Right?


Who is to say that he took the Oxycodone at the party? Can you prove when he took it? He said the levels were non lethal. Meaning he could have took them earlier in the day and they were wearing off. Still no proof he took them AT the party or that they contributed to his death.


He didn't have a script! Dont matter if it was at the party or not!


Except that people at the party state he took it.


Oxycodone can cause your heart to pound. Alcohol can amplify the effects of any drug. If he already had a bad ticker, the last thing he should be doing is taking recreational drugs. One question I have-did he know he had Cardiomyopathy? It is a treatable condition.


Just speculating.. but there's a strong possibility he had cardiomyopathy due to abusing alcohol and drugs for several years.
That's why I believe it disingenuous for Dr. Cadigan to claim mixing alcohol with oxycodone had nothing to do with his death. Further, the fact is several people committed felonies at that party and one would think a coroner/doctor would have a duty to ensure the people using and selling the oxycodone at the party were prosecuted.


First of all, there is no where in this article that says oxycodone was being sold, used, and/or abused at this party. I have been to many many parties, and when someone says that there were drugs being "passed" around, they are referring to a "joint", or marijuana cigarette, to be politically correct. I've never seen or heard of people freely passing around percocets, or oxys. So he could have simply taken a percocet earlier in the day or even the night before to help with pain he had in his neck, back, legs or anywhere for that matter. Also the test that are now available to test for drugs can narrow down the exact dose that was taken as well as when it was taken. So if the Dr/medical examiner, says that the amount of oxycodone and alcohol were NOT a factor in his death, then they were NOT a factor. All of you conspiracy theorist, need to go back to the drawing board. One last thing, smoking a joint with a couple of your friends while enjoying a cocktail, is NOT a felony, nor should it be.


Really? He took a Percocet which is prescribed for serious pain but decided to go to a party after taking it and mix it with alcohol despite clear warnings to the contrary?

My point continues to be 22 year olds rarely have cardiomyopathy and there were drugs passed at the party of popular people on the peninsula. God forbid the police, prosecutor, or coroner look into the nature of the drugs being passed around WHEN he had oxycodone in his system and cause problems for the "beautiful people" and or expose how widespread and lucrative Rx drug abuse is in Ottawa County.

IMO, it's a variant on the Limberios case. People are being protected from criminal charges for dealing, and or civil lawsuits.