Cause of Death Determined for Man Discovered on Muni Bus

Categories: Local News
Christopher Feasel
The San Francisco Medical Examiner's office has determined what killed a man whose sad, broken life ended on the back of a 5-Fulton bus last year.

In the wee hours of Oct. 17, cleanup workers found the corpse of Christopher Feasel slumped in the bus, roughly six and a half hours after the vehicle was parked for the night in the Muni yard at 949 Presidio. Five months after Feasel's Oct. 19 autopsy, the Medical Examiner has informed his family that the 37-year-old died of "acute polysubstance intoxication" -- i.e. too much cocaine and methadone. It's not much of a surprise for Harry and Marion Feasel, who watched their son slide into a world of crime, homelessness, and drug abuse over the last dozen years.

But some questions remain unanswered -- and will probably always will be.

Christopher Feasel had a Muni transfer in his pocket and the 5-Fulton he was riding pulled into the bus barn at around 6:30 p.m. Yet it wasn't until 1 a.m. that he was discovered dead. "The whole circumstances of him being on the bus, the bus being parked at 6:30 at night and the cleaning crew found him after midnight ... When did he die?" Harry Feasel told SF Weekly last month. "In our minds, we're just going crazy with this."

The official time of death for Christopher Feasel has been determined to be 1:06 a.m. on Oct. 17 -- exactly when the cleaning crew found him. For a father who had hoped to get his mind around what, exactly, his son experienced in his last few hours in this mortal coil, this doesn't begin to answer any questions. "We really don't know when he died," wrote Harry Feasel in an e-mail.

The letter the Feasels last week received from Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Amy Hart came after more than a few phone calls from the Sarasota, Fla. couple asking for updates. But updates weren't forthcoming. "They keep saying things like 'We don't have enough people working,' and 'Everything's backed up,'" Marion Feasel told SF Weekly last month. "It's always something. And it's been five months."

Steve Gelman, the administrator of the Medical Examiner's office said none of his colleagues would have given the above excuses to the Feasel family: "I can't imagine anybody would have said that," he said. "Sometimes people hear different things. I'm sure they were told the case is under investigation and everything that needs to be done will be done."

Feasel, meanwhile, notes that his hearing is just fine.

"I am sorry that the medical examiner's office is upset with our statements. We did not make them up," he wrote. "The delay sounded plausible to us since many cities are facing cutbacks because of the economy."

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