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Report has new details in City Hall suicide

City worker Huy Pham had his shoes on when he jumped off building, according to police report.

June 01, 2011|By Joseph Serna, joseph.serna@latimes.com

COSTA MESA — The just-released police report on a suicide at Costa Mesa City Hall offers a few new details about the death but no further insight into why maintenance worker Huy Pham chose to take his life by jumping from the roof at 77 Fair Drive.

Of the new information in the report, it appeared that Pham did not remove his shoes on the roof prior to jumping, as had been previously reported.

"Pham was wearing a blue T-shirt and jeans," one of the responding officer's police reports said. "His sandals had come off and were located a few feet away from him. Pham was covered with an emergency blanket."

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Though some have speculated the death was accidental because of Pham's general happy disposition, the police report calls the event a suicide.

The report, which the Daily Pilot obtained from a public records request filled by City Hall on Wednesday, described the chaotic scene after the death.

Within moments of Pham's suicide at about 3:23 p.m. March 17, more than a half dozen police officers and paramedics were on scene covering the body and blocking the view from the public.

Some employees have speculated that the time and place of the 29-year-old Fountain Valley man's suicide — on the eastside of City Hall where city officials park their cars, and coinciding with hundreds of layoff notices being handed out to his coworkers — was meant as a final message to the city.

Pham was scheduled to receive a notice that afternoon that he, too, would be laid off in six months. The layoffs are part of a broad austerity program approved by the City Council to cut projected future pension costs.

But nothing in the police department's investigation has shed light on a motive, said Lt. Paul Dondero.

Pham had access to the roof because he was a maintenance worker, and no one saw him jump, though he was reportedly seen falling.

A toxicology report from the coroner's office showed Pham had cocaine in his system, but experts couldn't say if he was under the influence of the drug at the time of his death.

Pham's family said in the days afterward that he had been planning to travel over the summer with friends and had injured himself training for a mountain climb in the Himalayas. He was on leave from his job due to injury the day he died.

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