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Oak Ridge report released; mom learns details of daughter's drowning death

Bob Fowler Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn. (MCT) • Jan 1, 2014 at 6:00 PM

 A South Carolina mother who for weeks sought records to explain how her daughter ended up floating facedown in the fountain at the Oak Ridge Civic Center said a letter containing the police department’s incident report of the case arrived Monday.

Lori Holt’s public records request for the report had at first been denied, as was a similar request from the News Sentinel.

Holt in an email Monday said she didn’t consider portions of the 12-page report to be valid but added she had no further comment.

“The people of Oak Ridge needed to know who that was,” Holt said of her daughter, Sarah Christine McAdams, 26, who died 13 days after her June 3 tumble into the fountain.

Both public records requests for the incident report were initially denied for similar reasons, according to letters from the City Clerk’s office: police said they were awaiting receipt of medical records connected with the case.

City Attorney Ken Krushenski said Monday after it was learned no further medical records on the case were available, he told police last week that the report should be released.

A letter from City Clerk Diana Stanley on Friday stated she had received information from police that the case “is now closed,” and the report was available. It was released the day after a Sentinel story about the mother’s quest to obtain it was published.

Police Chief James T. Akagi on Monday didn’t respond to an email and a phone call seeking comment about the report’s release.

City officials the day after McAdams was found in the fountain released a brief statement about the incident but the woman wasn’t identified. No other details emerged from the city until after Holt contacted local media outlets and identified the victim as her daughter.

Holt said the death certificate and the Regional Forensic Center’s report on her daughter’s death stated she drowned after inhalant abuse.

Holt said she wanted to see the police incident report to confirm those records and perhaps talk with any witnesses and the people who pulled her daughter from the fountain.

The incident report states a witness told police he saw McAdams “huffing an air can” in a nearby city park shortly before she fell into the fountain, and a can of “Dust Destroyer” was found in the fountain.

A passerby told police he spotted the woman floating facedown. The man and three Civic Center employees pulled the woman from the 14-inch-deep fountain and began CPR, according to the report.

A man identified as McAdams’ boyfriend, William Miller, told police “McAdams had been huffing duster, and that he had tried everything to get her to stop,” it continues.

Miller told police McAdams “had just been seen at Ridgeview, and they had a treatment plan.” Ridgeview Mental Health Services is a mental health facility in Oak Ridge.

Miller, the report states, told police that McAdams “was not that close with her family.”

Holt said her ex-husband, Roger Odell McAdams, handled their daughter’s cremation and there was no autopsy or funeral notice. She said she wasn’t notified of the death.

Holt said she only learned of her daughter’s death in September after her sister saw a death notice on a website.

In piecing together the final years of her life, Holt said she learned her daughter had become increasingly involved with drugs after she was raped during a brief stint in the Navy.

Related document: Oak Ridge police report on Sarah Christine McAdam's death

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