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article imageU.S. student forgotten in prison, drinks urine to survive

By Anne Sewell     May 2, 2012 in World
San Diego - Daniel Chong was arrested at a party with 9 other suspects on April 21 during a drug raid. While no charge was laid against him he was put into a prison cell and quite literally forgotten.

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24-year old Chong, an engineering student at the University of California, states that he was arrested on April 21, 2012 in a drug raid. Of the group arrested, one was released and the rest were booked into county jail.
The agents allegedly seized "18,000 ecstasy pills, marijuana, hallucinogenic mushrooms, a Russian rifle, two handguns and thousands of rounds of ammunition," at the party.
Chong says that he was questioned by the agents and then told that he could go home. No charges were made against him and an agent even offered him a ride home.
However, shortly after this he found himself in a cell where he could not even spread out his arms wide. He states that he was left in the cell by federal drug agents for 5 days without water, food or even access to a toilet.
The cell was 5-by-10 feet in size with no windows.
“They never came back, ignored all my cries and I still don’t know what happened,” he states, “I’m not sure how they could forget me.”
Chong says he kicked and screamed as loudly as possible, but apparently his cries for help went unheard or ignored by the agents. No water or food was given to him.
"I had to recycle my own urine," he said. "I had to do what I had to do to survive."
Chong says that at some point a white powder that DEA agents said was left in the cell by accident was accidentally ingested by him and by the third day, Chong was hallucinating. Later testing revealed the substance was methamphetamine.
At this stage, believing he would die in the prison cell, he bit into the lenses of his glasses and scratched a message to his mother saying “sorry Mom” on his wrist. Apparently, he also swallowed some of the shards of glass.
When Chong was finally found on April 25, he was immediately taken to hospital and was treated for dehydration, cramps and a perforated lung, which was the result of ingesting the broken glass.
Chong reports that he could even hear DEA employees and people in neighboring cells, so it is still unclear how he could have been so completely forgotten.
Following his release, he spent 3 days at Sharp Hospital in the intensive care unit. His kidneys were apparently close to failing due to the dehydration.
The Drug Enforcement Agency has no explanation for the oversight, and an official told NBC San Diego on Sunday (prior to the release of Chong's name) that a man was locked up for 4 days, not 5. Their statement says, “DEA plans to thoroughly review both the events and detention procedures on April 21st and after.''
Chong's lawyer, Gene Iredale, compares his client's experience to the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and has promised that they will file the matter with the federal court system on Wednesday. If this claim is denied, Iredale states he will proceed to file a federal lawsuit.
A San Diego defense attorney, Gretchen Von Helms has stated that Daniel Chong could get millions of dollars in compensation.
"In all my years of practice I've never heard of the DEA or any Federal government employee simply forgetting about someone that they have in their care," she told NBC San Diego.
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