Tyler Skaggs update, new information sheds light on nature of death

By Katherine Coble || News Editor

Photo Courtesy of nbclosangeles.com

Disturbing allegations have emerged in the investigation of Tyler Skaggs’ death. Skaggs was just 27 when he died from a fatal combination of opioids and alcohol on July 1, 2019, in the middle of the MLB season. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has been investigating the death ever since, and new allegations from an Angels employee have raised a plethora of questions about the Los Angeles Angels organization and opioid use in the MLB more broadly. 

The allegations center around longtime Angels public relations employee Eric Kay, who served as the team’s director of communications until his recent admittance into an opioid addiction treatment facility. Kay told the D.E.A. investigators that he had been abusing opioids with Skaggs for years, and multiple members of the Angels’ administration were aware of Skaggs’ addiction. He also named at least five MLB players who used opioids with him during their time with the Angels. 

According to Kay, he and Skaggs arranged a deal in which Kay would secure the drugs and Skaggs would pay for them. Kay and his family have released Venmo screenshots which show Skaggs sending over more than $2,000 to Kay over a period of several years, typically in $400 or $500 chunks, accompanied by emojis like a heart or a recharging battery. They claim this is just a fraction of the money Skaggs sent to Kay in order to fuel both of their addictions. 

In the days immediately preceding Skaggs’ death, Kay says he purchased six oxycontin pills and gave three to Skaggs, although it cannot be determined whether these were the same pills he took on the night of his death. According to an ESPN investigation, Kay told D.E.A. investigators that he entered Skaggs’ hotel room on the night of his death and saw him snort two lines of crushed oxycontin and one line of an unknown substance, which Kay did not recognize. Skaggs offered Kay some opioids, which he declined. Later that night Skaggs choked to death on his own vomit. A combination of oxycontin, fentanyl, and alcohol was found in his system.  

Kay and his family allege that multiple members of the Angels organization were aware of Skaggs’ drug use at the time of his death. In one incident, while Kay was hospitalized for a drug overdose, Skaggs frantically texted Kay asking for more drugs. Kay’s mother informed Tim Mead, then Kay’s supervisor at the Angels who was visiting him in the hospital at the time, that Skaggs was a user and “the team needed to intervene,” according to ESPN. Mead is now the president of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Kay has also implicated the Angels’ traveling secretary, Tom Taylor, as someone who knew about the issue. Both men deny any knowledge of Skagg’s drug abuse.

According to Sports Illustrated, the D.E.A. does not consider Kay to be a dangerous criminal, and it is unclear whether he will face any criminal charges for his relationship to Skaggs. Kay is currently on paid leave while attending an outpatient facility for his own opioid addiction. The D.E.A.’s investigation remains active, and it is still possible others will be criminally charged for Skaggs’ death, despite the accidental nature of his overdose. The Skaggs family has hired a Houston-based defense attorney to represent them, and a civil case is likely regardless of the D.E.A.’s findings.

Senior Katherine Coble is the News Editor. Her email is kcoble@fandm.edu. 

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