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updated: 2/17/2012 3:48 PM

Round Lake Heights man dies in Wauconda after swallowing baggie of cocaine

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A Round Lake Heights man was killed when a baggie of cocaine he swallowed during a Super Bowl party burst in his system, authorities said Friday.

Juan Ponce, 42, of the 600 block of Seminole Court, died at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital at 8:06 a.m. on Feb. 6, Lake County Coroner Artis Yancey said. Ponce died of cocaine intoxication, caused after a bag of cocaine ruptured in his system, Yancey said.

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Wauconda Police Chief Doug Larsson said Ponce was bar hopping in Wauconda while watching the Super Bowl the evening of Feb. 5, then stayed overnight at a friend's house in the 400 block of Woodland Avenue.

Ponce woke up the next morning, but fell over in distress moments later, Larsson said. The unidentified friend called paramedics, and Ponce was rushed to the hospital, where he later died.

"At some point during the Super Bowl, he was at a location and felt like someone was watching him," Larsson said. "So, he voluntarily swallowed the baggie of cocaine."

Yancey said the ruptured baggie was found during the autopsy. He said it was unclear how many grams of cocaine was in the baggie when it was swallowed and how much was left in the baggie when it was recovered. Yancey added that a portion of the drug had dissolved prior to Ponce falling ill in Wauconda.

Larsson said there was no signs of foul play, and nothing suspicious found prior to the autopsy.

"Witnesses and friends told investigators that he was always anxious and concerned that people were following him," Larsson said. "As far as we know, no one from law enforcement was following him that night. So, why he swallowed the baggie is something we will never truly know."

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