Kyrstin Van De Voort, a fourth-year economics major and member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority, died shortly after arriving at Irvine Regional Hospital at approximately 1:53 a.m. on April 1. Although the cause of death was initially undetermined, a toxicology report submitted on June 16 confirmed the cause of death to be acute cocaine and cocaethylene intoxication. Traces of cocaine and cocathylene, the concurrent mix of cocaine and alcohol, were found in the bloodstream and brain of the deceased.
“The death is officially classified as accidental,” said Orange County Sheriff-Coroner spokesman John McDonald.
According to the autopsy, Van De Voort was in fine health with the exception of an enlarged liver, a condition called hepatomegalic steatosis or excess fat in the liver from metabolic problems.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a federal government research institute, the combination of cocaine and alcohol, commonly known as cocaethylene is the most common two-drug combination that result in death involving drugs.
Research into the lethality of cocaethylene use compared to cocaine use alone is young, but anecdotal experiments have pointed towards an increase in mortality rates from a combination of cocaine and alcohol consumption. One of these, a 1999 study of drugged rats by the Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, found cocaethylene 46 percent more lethal than the control group of cocaine use alone.
Additionally, a study appearing in the July 1997 issue of the Journal of Addictive Diseases stated that cocaethylene has been associated with seizures, liver damage and compromised functioning of the immune system and found an 18 to 25 fold increase in risk for immediate death over cocaine use alone.