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article imageForgotten student in jail cell reaches settlement with DEA

By Anne Sewell     Jul 31, 2013 in World
San Diego - Back in April 2012, a young Californian college student, Daniel Chong, was left handcuffed and forgotten in a federal holding cell for four days with no food or water. He has now agreed to a $4.1 million settlement over the incident.
As reported on Digital Journal back in May last year, 24-year old Chong, a California college student was detained in an April 21, 2012 drug raid in San Diego.
A narcotics task force detained nine people and seized about 18,000 ecstasy pills, marijuana, prescription medications, hallucinogenic mushrooms, several guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition from the house, according to the DEA.
While he was not suspected of any drug activity, he was jailed in the raid and quite simply forgotten about by DEA authorities.
Chong was left handcuffed in a 5-foot by 10-foot federal holding cell, totally alone and forgotten, for four days with no food or water and was forced to drink his own urine to survive.
Believing he would die in the prison cell, Chong 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.
It took until the afternoon of April 25 for an agent to open the steel door of the cell and find Chong.
It remains unclear how the situation occurred, and no one has been disciplined, according to Eugene Iredale, an attorney for Chong.
"It sounded like it was an accident – a really, really bad, horrible accident," Chong said.
His attorney said that according to doctors, Chong was suffering from severe dehydration, muscle deterioration, hallucinations, liver and kidney failure and extremely high levels of sodium.
"This was a mistake of unbelievable and unimaginable proportions," said his other attorney, Julia Yoo.
She said that Chong lost 15 pounds and suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder.
"He's the strongest person I have ever met," Yoo said.
He has now agreed to a $4.1 million settlement with the US Drug Enforcement Administration.
The San Diego office of the DEA declined to comment on the settlement, but did tell CNN that a review of their protocols and procedures has been conducted and submitted to the inspector general's office at the Department of Justice.
Yoo said, "As a result of his case, it's one of the primary reasons the DEA placed a nationwide policy that calls on each agent at satellite offices to check on the well-being of prisoners in their cells on a daily basis."
Chong has since returned to complete his undergraduate degree at UC San Diego.
Yoo said, "He changed his major from engineering to economics and wants to finish school, pursue his career and help take care of his mother."
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