Coroner: Recent Gay Bathhouse Deaths Were Drug-Related


Back in March, G Philly reported on two deaths inside of gay bathhouses in Philadelphia. The first one occurred at Club Philadelphia, and the second one was at Sansom Street Gym.

Club Philadelphia owner Chris Srnicek told us at the time, “We don’t think it’s drugs.” And a reader identified as “Sansom St Gym” left a comment on our story about the death there, claiming “it wasn’t drug related.” (A Sansom Street Gym manager also suggested to the Philadelphia Gay News that drugs were not involved). Well, both were wrong.

According to the Philadelphia Department of Health, the coroner’s office has ruled that both deaths involved drugs.

The official ruling on the Club Philadelphia incident is that it was an “accidental death … caused by methamphetamine intoxication and heart disease,” reports Department of Health spokesperson Jeff Moran.

And as for the Sansom Street Gym death, that one was ruled “an accident due to drug intoxication,” according to James Garrow, another representative of the department.

We asked Garrow what that meant, and how it was different from an overdose.

“It’s not a drug overdose, in terms of taking too much and that killing you,” he replied. “Most illegal drug deaths are due to the inherent danger of the drug itself. Most people who die from illegal drugs aren’t found to have any more than a normal amount of the drug … no more than they normally use. But the drug is dangerous, and they die because of it. In the case of a drug overdose, the toxicology report will note an unusually high amount of the drug in the person’s system.”

The Department of Health was unable to provide the type of drug involved in the Sansom Street Gym death, because it wasn’t noted on the death certificate.

One former meth dealer and frequenter of both clubs says that the current owner of Club Philadelphia has cleaned up the club quite a bit but that it’s still a “drug-fueled atmosphere.”

“Either people do them inside or at home and then go there,” he says. “As for Sansom Street Gym, if you were to sit there in a room, you’d literally hear torches popping as they smoke bowls of meth.”

Both clubs declined an opportunity to comment.