Kenneth Caleb Shortridge
Caleb's Father, Ken:
"On April 30th, 1998, I lost my only son, Kenneth Caleb Shortridge. He was 27, vibrant, full of life. He had dreams, plans, aspirations and was excited about life. Just a couple of weeks earlier he told me he had found a girl and was in love. The night before he died, he was here, talking about how excited he was and how well his new business venture was going. Life plans in the making!"
"I got the call from the hospital at 12:15 am. "Your son was brought to the emergency room. He did not make it." This is what I heard through the fog of sleep. It was not a dream. It was a nightmare. At the hospital, there on the emergency room table lay the lifeless form in which my son used to dwell. No more laughter, no more boyish smile, no more plans, just a lifeless form growing cold with staring eyes asking, "Why?"
"This is not supposed to happen!"
"One year ago in April I lost my father. His death brought on a great pain along with sorrow, You expect to loose your parents sometime in life. You are not supposed to loose your children. Death hurts the living; the death of a child tears your guts out."
"Caleb loved the ocean, he loved to surf. We were going diving on Memorial Day. Instead, we had his memorial two weeks ago. His ashes sit on my office shelf. I will scatter them on his beloved ocean the first week in June."
"This is not supposed to happen!"
"I walk along the beach under a cloudless blue sky, the waves cashing on the shore – the pain! The grief! He is no longer here to enjoy the beauty of such a day. The sound of the waves, the smell of the ocean, the breeze in the hair or the sun as it warms the shoulders as the sand squishes between bare toes. Small things really, but is that not what the joy of life is made of? Only now it brings great sadness. Why would a man walk along the shore on such a beautiful day in San Diego with tears in his eyes? Just another part of the healing. It seems to be a slow process. "
"As I write this, the tears flow; this is probably a good thing."
"Caleb. I miss him so."
form as events unfolded
- names have been changed for privacy, except the immediate family
May 1, 1998
About 12 midnight
Phone call from hospital. Caleb died. Ken (father) and Anya (step-mom) went to Mercy hospital on 5th Ave., San Diego at approx. 12:30 am, May 1. Caleb’s roommate, Sarah, was present in Family conference room. She had called 911.
She arrived at her apartment at 7:30 p.m., April 30, 1998 after school. There were people in the house: Bob, Bob’s girlfriend, and another couple. Caleb was passed out on the floor. Sarah (does not take any drugs) asked Bob what happened.
Bob: "Oh, he took to much GHB."
Sarah: "Shouldn’t we take him to the hospital?"
Bob: "Ah, nah! He’ll just sleep it off. Don’t worry. Just keep checking on him."
Sarah asked again if they should call 911, and Bob’s response was the same – "He’ll just sleep it off." Sarah thought that since Bob manufactures and sells GHB, he knows what the dangers are, if any.
Bob told Sarah that Caleb thought the GHB was water (by sight), and that he swallowed a lot before realizing what it was. The "normal" dose is a water bottle cap full, we were told. The foursome at Sarah’s apartment left (when?), telling Sarah to just check on him. Sarah checked on Caleb every 5 or so minutes. She would push on him and he would start snoring, which told Sarah that he was indeed going to be okay, as Bob had said.
Sarah checked on Caleb again. He was not breathing. She called 911 (police report says she called at 10:25 p.m.) and began CPR. In the ambulance, they got a faint pulse, but it faded away. He died on the emergency room table after frantic efforts to revive him.
Sarah said the police took a statement from her. At the time of this writing, we have not heard what is happening with efforts to take Bob into custody. Other manufacturers/sellers of GHB have been arrested and served time for this activity.
May 2, 1998
Picked up 2 boxes of Caleb’s things at the home of Sarah Thomas
Had conversation with distraught Sarah. Had not heard from "Bob (drug-dealer). Had left several pages on his voice-mail pager.
Said Caleb’s friend, Melanie, was very distraught. While I was there, Melanie called again, distraught. Melanie told Sarah that she (Melanie) had just spoken with Bob and asked him why he hadn’t returned Sarah’s pages. He (Bob) said he had not received any messages from Sarah.
While there, Sarah showed me under the stove lid where she believes Bob made the GHB while she was gone during the day. There was crystalline "goop" under there.
Melanie just called me. Said Caleb had called her right after he took it. He said, "I took a lot of GHB. Don’t be mad at me. I just want you to know how much I love you. I love you. I’m going to pass out. I love you." Bob took phone from him and he said calm down.
Melanie told Bob that Caleb had died. He "couldn’t believe it." Bob said "she (Sarah) wasn’t checking on him! I told her to check on him!"
I told Melanie to have Bob call us here and that the police were looking for him (actually, I found out later that this is not true), and if he was Caleb’s friend, where is he now? I said that he should turn himself in and things would go easier on him, and that we know he did not do this intentionally. I said we really want to talk to him, because he was there with Caleb.
- End of journal for now.
As of this writing, we still have not heard from "Bob."
We have since met with Bob and the others. They, too, are devastated. Bob promised that he would stop making GHB and selling it. Caleb was his best friend. How sad. Whether Bob has really stopped making GHB or not, we do not know. But we hope that he and others in similar situations will consider how fragile our bodies really are. To mess with our bodies makeup is playing with fire. Life is so full of things that can make us happy. We do not need drugs for this purpose.
NEW: June 15, 1998
We received the report from the Medical Examiner yesterday. An Orange County Medical Examiner who has seen many GHB overdoses said that the levels of GHB in Caleb's body were the highest she had ever seen. This is very interesting, since GHB does leave the body so quickly. Even though from the time of his ingesting the GHB to the time he died was about 4 or 5 hours, the GHB levels were still so high. They ruled his death as an accident.
May all of you who read this consider that your choices, although your own, can and DO affect all other members of society. Please be careful, and love yourself.