Vermont Street Death Under Investigation

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On April 15, Rodney David Mann died at the age of 42 at a home on the 500 block of Vermont Street. Authorities reported that Mann was at the residence for less than a day, visiting a friend who lived there. According to another friend of the deceased, and Liberty Hill resident, who wished to remain anonymous, Mann had previously lived in Utah and Palo Alto, but frequently stayed in San Francisco at various hotels. The friend knew Mann for about three years, and had recent contact with him, but was unaware of what caused his friend’s death.

“He was a really fun and energetic guy,” reflected the friend. “He was always forward thinking and willing to improvise, very spontaneous. He would really think on the spot. He was an entrepreneurial type with something new always going on, and had been working on documentaries and was involved in the cannabis industry. He was living a fast life. Because of health complications he ended up going to the emergency room frequently.”

The friend described Mann as someone who lived life fully, appreciated each moment, able to bounce back easily from setbacks. He said that Mann came from a devout Mormon family, and although he no longer adhered to the faith, was on good terms with family members.

San Francisco Police Department Officer Robert Rueca said that the department received a report of a deceased person at 4:46 p.m. on April 15.  Police units arrived at the Vermont Street residence shortly after, and located Mann, who was pronounced dead at the scene. The Office of the Medical Examiner was then contacted to assist.

“There had been a 911 call made that afternoon reporting of a deceased person,” Rueca explained. “He is not identified as a person living at the residence, but we don’t know where he was visiting from. The cause of death stated in the initial report was ‘not determined’ but it’s not being looked at as a suspicious death. No crime was committed that caused the person’s death.”

According to Thomas McDonald, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner chief investigator, the death was “drug-related and still being investigated.” Another medical examiner investigator subsequently said that the time of death was 1700 hours, and that the report is still being drafted pending toxicology results, which could take up to six months to complete.

According to the National Association of Medical Examiners, 90 percent of coroner reports should be completed within 90 days of an individual’s demise. However, National Center for Health Statistics data suggests that death certificates for drug-related losses take longer to issue compared to other causes.

On June 5, The New York Times reported that 2016 saw the largest annual increase in drug overdose deaths in the nation’s history. The jump was due to rising rates of opioid addiction exacerbated by the emergence of illicit synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl and carfentanil, which are dramatically more potent than heroin. According to Brian Peterson, National Association of Medical Examiners president, the larger number of overdoses has created a national shortage of forensic pathologists, straining associated resources.

“The issue is nationwide, in the sense that the same limited number of forensic pathologists, toxicologists, and investigators have to handle a markedly increased workload. This has already had an impact on office accreditation and burnout,” Peterson commented.

A Vermont Street resident, who spoke anonymously, said that when he arrived home the afternoon of April 15 he saw an ambulance parked on the street with emergency flashers on, though the paramedics were sitting idly in the vehicle. When he asked the paramedics about the situation, they responded ambiguously. The ambulance then left, replaced by a medical examiner van, to which a body was carried from the house.

Vermont Street residents have generally been concerned about drug activity at the residence where the death occurred. A January 2016 View article reported a drug raid there involving the SFPD, Daly City Police Department and Drug Enforcement Agency. One Vermont Street resident told a View reporter that though she’d previously been disturbed by noise, loitering and heavy foot traffic in and out of the house, things have been quiet since last December.

Department of Building Inspection records from 2016 and 2017 indicate that five complaints were made pertaining to “blight conditions” at the property, with a similar grievance filed with the Planning Department.

Although the friend had limited information about past activities at the residence, he stated that the current occupants are working on undertaking renovations, including plumbing improvements.

A funeral service for Mann was held on April 22 in Orem, Utah.