UK & World News
Student Forgotten In Cell Drinks Own Urine
A California university student mistakenly left handcuffed in a cell without food or water for five days has described how he survived by drinking his own urine.
Daniel Chong, 23, was left in the cell in San Diego after being arrested with eight other people on April 21 in a raid in which Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents seized guns, ammunition and drugs.
Without food, water or access to a toilet, Daniel Chong, 23, began hallucinating on the third day.
The University of California engineering student said he saw little Japanese-style cartoon characters that told him to dig into the walls to find water.
He said he tore apart the plastic lining on the walls.
"I ripped the walls and waited for the room to flood for some reason," he said, after he left the hospital.
"I can't explain my hallucinations too well because none of them make sense.
"I felt like I was completely losing my mind," adding that he lost 15llbs (7kgs) during the ordeal.
Four days later, agents opened the door by chance and found him covered in his own faeces, Mr Chong said.
He had become so desperately thirsty he drank his own urine, and doctors are concerned about possible kidney damage.
After being released from the cell, Mr Chong spent five days in hospital where he was treated for dehydration and kidney failure.
Mr Chong was never arrested, never charged and should have been released.
His lawyer Julia Yoo said after her client was cleared of any wrongdoing, DEA agents told him they would put him in a holding cell for just a minute before driving him home.
But Mr Chong remained in the a 5ft (1.52-metre)-by-10ft (3-metre) windowless cell with his wrists handcuffed behind his back.
He managed to wriggle his arms back to the front of his body during his captivity.
As the hours dragged into days, he said he kicked and screamed as loud as he could.
At one point, he ripped a piece of his jacket off with his teeth and shoved it under the door, hoping someone would spot it and free him.
Mr Chong also tried to take his own life by breaking the glass from his glasses and attempting to carve "Sorry mom," on his arm.
Nurses later found pieces of glass in his throat, leading him to believe he swallowed the shards.
Mr Chong also said he ingested a white powder that he found in the cell.
Agents later identified it as methamphetamine. Mr Chong said he ingested it to survive.
The DEA statement did not say what the bag of drugs was doing in the cell.
"That's a fantastic question to ask the DEA," Ms Yoo said.
Mr Chong's attorneys have filed a $20m (£12.4m) claim against the DEA, saying his treatment constitutes torture under US and international law.
"He nearly died," said Mr Chong's lawyer, Eugene Iredale.
"If he had been there another 12 to 24 hours, he probably would have died."
The DEA issued a statement apologising for the apparent oversight but offering little in the way of further details or explanation.
Mr Chong arrived home from the hospital on Sunday, but missed his final exams while detained, his lawyer said.
In a statement, William Sherman, the acting special agent in charge of the DEA's San Diego branch, said he was "deeply troubled by the incident".
"I extend my deepest apologies to the young man and want to express that this event is not indicative of the high standards that I hold my employees to," Mr Sherman said.
"I have personally ordered an extensive review of our policies and procedures."
The DEA statement said agents detained nine people including Mr Chong during the raid and seized some 18,000 ecstasy pills, marijuana, hallucinogenic mushrooms and prescription medicines, as well as firearms and ammunition.
It also said that Mr Chong had admitted to agents at the time "that he was at the house to get high". Mr Chong said he has no criminal record.
Doctors said Mr Chong's wounds should heal, but he said he still breaks down in tears.
"I'm very glad they found me," he said.
"They never came back, ignored all my cries and I still don't know what happened.
"I'm not sure how they could forget me."
Federal lawmakers are demanding a thorough investigation.
Senator Barbara Boxer has sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, saying: "Please provide me with the results and the actions the department will take to make sure those responsible are held accountable and that no one in DEA custody will ever again be forced to endure such treatment."
In 2005, Stephen Slevin was arrested in New Mexico and kept in solitary confinement without trial for nearly two years over an alleged drink driving offence.
A jury awarded Mr Slevin $22m (£12m) in compensation in January.