A coroner’s inquest into the death of David MacGregor was conducted on Friday, 12 October, with the jury returning a verdict of death by misadventure after the deceased overdosed by inhaling a gas commonly used in consumer products and electronic cleaners.
Mr. McGregor, 30, and an American citizen who recently arrived in the Cayman Islands, had been working as a manager at restaurant Wine Down in Governor’s Square, off West Bay Road in Grand Cayman. On 19 September, 2011, he was found dead at his home. He had no family in the Cayman Islands.
The court heard from Health Services Authority Pathologist Dr. Shravana Jyoti that the death of Mr. MacGregor was not just a sudden death, but considered an unexpected death.
“Sudden death is an instance in which there are some underlying conditions that may be considered in the death, whereas in an unexpected death, there is nothing that would indicate or predict any life threatening happenings occurring,” Dr. Joyti noted.
On 13 September, 2011, Mr. MacGregor had been treated at the hospital for the ingestion of one can of Duster Desempolvador (Difluoroethane), or what was described in court as computer cleaner spray. It was not determined by medical practitioners whether this was the direct incident that caused his death or it was an inhalation that took place at a later time.
The inhalant is usually ingested as part of a practice known as “huffing”, which Dr. Jyoti said caused some euphoria.
The cause of death was listed on the autopsy was difluoroethane toxicity.
“He was addicted to this thing, according to witnesses who were interviewed at his workplace,” said the doctor, who explained that several teens and adults around the world die from similar circumstances each year. “Cans are usually labelled to warn about misuse/abuse of inhalants,” he continued.
The doctor also said that the death was as a result of an overdose of the substance. There were no other drugs found in Mr. MacGregor’s system. The level of toxicity of the chemical that killed Mr. MacGregor was 300 micrograms, while Dr. Jyoti said the lowest reading known to cause death was 29 micrograms.
In an inquest the jury may return a verdict of suicide, natural causes, or return an open verdict. After retreating for a short time a jury of six individuals returned a verdict of death by misadventure.