Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mystery of the Malibu restaurant worker's death

This is an interesting story. The facts on the ground are constantly changing as new information comes in, and that is perfectly OK. What struck me about this story is how sensitive and skittish people are these days with anything resembling a Pestilence. We have all seen The Stand, or Contagion, or Epidemic or Outbreak...and we all know that behind featureless office building walls are labs experimenting with creating the next superflu or the next genetically mutated pestilence. When the headlines came out about this Malibu restaurant worker, the blogs lit up like the fourth of July. The story goes like this:

A restaurant worker at Guido's in Malibu was found dead in the alley behind his restaurant. He was in a pool of blood. Initial reports were that he was shot. Another report stated he was beaten to death as he took out the trash.

A day or so later it turned out that it was reported that the worker possibly died of a mysterious upper respiratory infection.

That's when things went bananas. Just the thought of a man who had worked a shift in its entirety, was performing a mundane task, then keeled over with his lungs melting inside him, was too much for people to take. Imaginations went wild. Forums and chat boards lit up. Contradictory reports were coming out all over the place.

"Sheriff's officials say a man found dead in front of a Malibu restaurant died from an upper respiratory infection, but the cause of that infection is still unknown. The L.A. County Coroner's Office is running toxicology tests that could provide more answers. Carlos Ivan Rodas, 32, was found Sunday night in front of Guido's restaurant on Cross Creek Road, where he worked. Rodas was found in a pool of blood outside the restaurant. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Witnesses said he had gone to take the trash out behind the restaurant, and then staggered to the front, where he collapsed. Initial reports from the scene indicated Rodas had been shot. A short time later, authorities amended that story, saying it appeared Rodas had been brutally beaten by a group of unidentified suspects. Then, on Wednesday, the sheriff's department changed the story a third time, saying Rodas likely died from an upper respiratory disease. Sheriff's officials also said it appeared there was no criminal conduct related to Rodas' death. The Coroner has not issued an official cause of death.Coroner spokesman Ed Winter said he could not discuss the findings because a security hold has been placed on the case."

And the coroner retracted the nugget that the guy died of upper respiratory disease and clamped down on all communications. A "security hold."

Malibu Restaurant Worker Found in Pool of Blood Died of Respiratory Disease [UPDATED]
"UPDATE 4:07 PM Assistant Coroner Chief Ed Winter has expressed dismay this afternoon regarding the LASD's release of information about Rodas' cause of death, according to CNS. Winter said he was "irritated at this," and explained that a sheriff's detective placed a security hold on the case, which barred anyone at the coroner's office from discussing the case. Winter added he could not confirm the information released by the LASD that indicates Rodas died of an "upper respiratory disease." Asked if an upper respiratory infection could indicate tuberculosis, Winter said it could, however he said it also could have been another kind of infection, reports CNS."

Finally the coroner's office took over and issued a statement on behalf of the City of Malibu--

"Over the last few days, the City has been in constant communication with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department regarding the tragic death of an employee at a local restaurant. In order to provide clear information and to help alleviate several conflicting reports surrounding the cause of death, the Sheriff’s Department issued a statement that the death appears to be respiratory in nature, but no other specifics have been given. In the interest of public safety, as well as the need to provide the community with information and the pressure to release information, the Sheriff’s Department provided preliminary assessments based upon witness accounts and the appearance of the scene."

"Initial assessments by medical, fire and law enforcement personnel led to the belief that a violent crime may have taken place. As in many investigations, until all of the evidence has been verified, the cause of death may be modified. As always, the first concern was for public safety in the actual event this was determined to be a homicide. The City is disappointed by the confusing and contradictory messages given to the media and public about this tragedy. The City’s goal is to get the most accurate and up to date information before disseminating it to the community."

"Public safety and public health are the City’s most important issues and the City is working hard to get the correct facts regarding this incident to allay any fears that may have arisen. The Sheriff’s Department and County Coroner are working diligently to determine the exact cause of death. The City will continue to collaborate closely with the Sheriff’s Department on communication to the public until the final medical report is issued that will separate the facts from fiction in this very confusing, yet tragic, case.Malibu Mayor Laura Rosenthal added, “The City extends our heartfelt condolences to Mr. Rodas’ family and friends during this very difficult time. A young man has died, no matter the circumstances, and we wish to respect the pain and suffering of his loved ones at this time. I will be working to get as much information as possible about this tragedy and make sure that our residents and community are safe.”

Just the fact that the City had to issue a statement to quell the immediate hysteria was pretty interesting. That there was so much immediate hysteria is also very interesting. We're all so skittish today, more than we realize, I think. Part of that is a deep distrust of what officials are telling us from day to day on both mundane and important matters.

Investigations continue, and nothing has emerged about the case in the last day and a half. The coroner said that they have to grow a culture and then test it, and that process takes time, about 4 weeks according to this report. The Health Department investigated the restaurant and it was declared a non-threat to public safety and is open for business. The only thing they will say is that it was not a homicide, and there were no external wounds on the worker. Creepy.

Meanwhile it is scary to think of all the diseases that are being cultured right now in petrie dishes in labs all over the world, especially Damascus, the Middle East's most advanced bio and chemical warfare labs.

I have mentioned before on my blog and in the DD newsletter that Damascus is home to advanced bio-labs and chemical warfare plants. With the unrest in Syria, those are at risk, either from insurgents or from simply being attacked purposely or accidentally, and bio-agents released. We could truly have an "Outbreak" situation on our hands. To that end,

US, Jordan mulling ways to secure Syrian bio-weapons
Washington, Amman are reportedly devising ways to keep Damascus' chemical, biological weapons caches out of terror groups' hand should Assad fall
"The United States and Jordan are reportedly discussing ways to secure what is believed to be Syria's substantial stockpile of chemical and biological weapons, in order to prevent them from falling into the hands of Hezbollah or al-Qaeda, should Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime come to its end.Syria is believed to have one of the world's largest arsenals of nerve agents, including Sarin, cyanide, and mustard gas; and is one of only seven nations not to sign the 1992 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)".

Goodness, I hope they secure those labs!

1 comment:

  1. Ok, let's look at this. The guy goes to take out the trash, a task that would be put off by someone who was in physical distress, more than likely. Would you, if bleeding from your respiratory system, take out the trash or call for help? Nobody else is mentioned? Co-workers? A biological agent would not show up that quickly without other symptoms. A fast acting blistering agent such as VX gas could. And just because there is a hold on information tells you that there is more that they don't want the public to know. Yup. It smells.

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