By T.A. Hendrickson
“Acute methamphetamine toxicity” caused the death of Andres Sierra, 62, the homeless man who died on February 23 in the encampment under the 2 Freeway in Eagle Rock. In reporting the cause of death, the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner also noted that Sierra had other significant medical conditions, including heart disease.
The circumstances of Sierra’s death are sadly familiar to health officials who track deaths on the street.
Drug overdose, mostly involving methamphetamine, has been the leading cause of death for unhoused Angelenos in recent years, according to the latest report on homeless deaths in L.A. County, released in January 2021 by the county Department of Public Health. The report also found that homeless death by drug overdose was highest among unhoused persons ages 55 to 61, followed by those 62+.
Coronary heart disease was the second most common cause of death among unhoused persons in L.A. County, according to the report, followed by traffic and transportation-related injuries, homicide and suicide.
The report covers homeless deaths in L.A. County in 2019 and the first seven months of 2020. The full death tally for 2020 is not yet available, though based on the first seven months, homeless deaths in 2020 were on track for a record high of 1,383.
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