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Tech player died of morphine toxicity

POSTED: May 17, 2008 5:00 a.m.

ATLANTA — A Georgia Tech pitcher died last month from an accidental drug overdose, the medical examiner’s office said Monday, but it has not been determined if heroin was involved.

Michael Hutts, a 21-year-old pitcher for the Yellow Jackets, was the victim of accidental morphine toxicity, according to a statement from Fulton County’s chief medical examiner, Randy Hanzlick.

Hutts’ roommate was quoted in the police report as saying the pitcher was visited the night before his April 11 death by a friend who was known to use heroin, possibly with Hutts.

Heroin is processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of certain varieties of poppy plants, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

"At present, there is insufficient information to determine which pill(s) or substance(s) may have been taken to account for the morphine detected in the autopsy samples," Hanzlick said in his statement. "The answer to that question may remain unknown. At present, a substance typically found when heroin has been used has not been detected in the autopsy samples tested to date, but additional tests will be conducted."

Hutts was a management major who made Georgia Tech’s dean’s list last year.

Ryan Tinkoff, Hutts’ teammate and roommate, told police he noticed Hutts’ eyes were dilated before Tinkoff went to bed the night of April 10. Tinkoff said he entered Hutts’ room the next afternoon when he did not respond to knocks on the door. According to the report, Tinkoff found Hutts non-responsive and his arm was "purplish."

Tinkoff told officers Hutts and friends had been drinking before Hutts was visited by a friend who "was known to use heroin, possibly with Mr. Hutts," the police report said.

Investigators found empty beer cans in the apartment, and an empty bottle of liquor and a bottle of pain pills in Hutts’ room, according to the report.

Georgia Tech spokesman Wayne Hogan said the school has not seen a copy of the toxicology report but was hoping to get one by Tuesday.

"Nothing that has been released changes the sadness we all continue to feel," Hogan said.

"As we’ve said all along, Michael was a promising kid. He was a great student, a very good baseball player and gave us no indication that there were these kind of issues to deal with. For that reason, it’s shocking to us."

Hutts died less than a week after his best game of the season. On April 6, the reliever threw two scoreless innings against North Carolina, allowing one hit. Overall, he made nine appearances this year.

"It was just a very tragic mistake that took the life of an otherwise tremendous young person," Hogan said.



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