Police Update: Man Found Dead in Aldi Lot Friday Died of Accidental Drug Overdose
Toxicology reports are pending, but preliminary tests conform accidental drug overdose as cause of death.
Police said Christopher Brighton, 22, of Glenn Mills, PA—who was found dead inside a car in the Aldi Foods parking lot Friday, Jan. 7—died of an accidental drug overdose.
Preliminary tests—conducted by the county medical examiner one day after Brighton was found—ruled Brighton's cause of death an accidental drug overdose, said police.
According to Dsg. Guy DeRitis of the Collingswood Police Department, names of specific drugs Brighton ingested won't be available until toxicology reports are complete.
"The toxicology reports haven't come back yet," said DeRitis Wednesday afternoon. "But the medical examiner's preliminary tests were able to confirm a cause of death. The tests came back positive for drug use."
According to police reports, officers were dispatched to the parking lot of Aldi Foods, at the intersection of White Horse Pike and Ferry Avenue, at 4:35 p.m. Jan. 8, following reports that a male was possibly dead at the scene.
Upon arrival, police said Brighton was found slumped in the driver's seat of a black Ford Explorer. Shortly after, officers confirmed Brighton's death.
Multiple witness reports, said police, indicate Brighton may have been dead in the Aldi lot for more than 20 hours before his body was found.
DeRitis confirmed Brighton was last seen by his parents, in Pennsylvania, on Thursday, Jan. 6—one day before the overdose. Police said Brighton's vehicle was reportedly noticed in the Aldi parking lot later on that same night.
"We have a witness who reported noticing the vehicle parked in Aldi at 7 p.m. Thursday night," said DeRitis, adding that reports came from an Aldi employee. "So we believe these reports to be accurate."
But DeRitis said the Aldi employee simply noticed the car Thursday evening—and did not determine anything suspicious about the incident.
In fact, said DeRitis, the incident wasn't reported to police until Friday at 4:35 p.m.
"A pedestrian, during two different occasions on Friday, had walked past (Brighton's) vehicle," said DeRitis. "The pedestrian did notice someone lying in the front driver's seat on the first occasion. But after passing by a second time, the pedestrian realized something was wrong."
According to police reports, the pedestrian flagged-down a nearby PATCO officer—the PATCO line's Ferry Avenue station sits caddy-corner from Aldi.
Police said the PATCO officer relayed what he saw to a port authority officer. After checking the vehicle, the port authority contacted Collingswood Police Department.
According to DeRitis, more information will be available once toxicology results come back. But until reports are complete, police said they are fairly certain about what occurred.
"At this point, we do believe he was alone at the time (of his death)," said DeRitis. "Because there's nothing that jumps out at us that would indicate otherwise. Like the medical examiner said, there's nothing suspicious about the case."