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I Had to Recycle My Own Urine': Student Arrested and Forgotten in Cell Goes Days Without Food, Water


"When they opened the door, one of them said 'Here's the water you've been asking for."

Daniel Chong was forgotten in his holding cell for five days without food or water. (Photo: UT San Diego/K.C. Alfred)

SAN DIEGO (The Blaze/AP) — A San Diego college student who federal drug agents forgot and left in a holding cell for five days without food, water or access to a toilet said Tuesday that he drank his own urine to survive.

Daniel Chong also said that he bit into his glasses to break them and tried to use a shard to scratch "Sorry Mom" into his arm, according to U-T San Diego.

The 24-year-old University of California, San Diego, engineering student was swept up as one of nine suspects in an April 21 drug raid that netted 18,000 ecstasy pills, other drugs and weapons.

Chong said federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents told him he would be let go. One agent even promised to drive him home from the DEA field office in Kearny Mesa, he said.

Instead, he was returned to a holding cell to await release. DEA spokeswoman Amy Roderick said he was accidentally left there:

“Seven suspects were brought to county detention after processing, one was released and the individual in question was accidentally left in one of the cells,” spokeswoman Amy Roderick said.

Federal agents declined to respond to follow-up questions on Monday and no clarification was provided Tuesday.

Their statement did not address how long the detainee was left alone, but San Diego Fire-Rescue said paramedics were summoned to the Viewridge Avenue administrative center at 4:42 p.m. Wednesday to transport a patient who was suspected of ingesting a white powder substance. The DEA said the substance tested positive for methamphetamine.

Chong said he could hear the muffled voices of agents outside his five-by-10-foot windowless cell and the door of the next cell being opened and closed. He kicked and screamed as loud as he could, but apparently his cries for help went unheard.

"I had to recycle my own urine," he said. "I had to do what I had to do to survive."

When he was found on April 25, he was taken to a hospital and treated for cramps, dehydration and a perforated lung — the result of ingesting the broken glass.

"When they opened the door, one of them said 'Here's the water you've been asking for," Chong said. "But I was pretty out of it at the time."

The agency hasn't commented on Chong's claim that he was without basic necessities for days. UT-San Diego also reports that Chong admitted to smoking marijuana before the raid but did not know of any other drugs or weapons at the home he was in. Chong has not been charged with any crimes.

Chong's attorney, Eugene Iredale, said he plans to file a claim against the federal government, and if it is denied he will proceed with filing a federal lawsuit.

Here is Chong's press conference:

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