Former Angels employee charged in connection to Tyler Skaggs’ death

Los Angeles Angels, Tyler Skaggs (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Angels, Tyler Skaggs (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

The man who supplied fentanyl to former Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs has officially been charged with distribution in connection to his death.

It has been over a year since Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs was found dead of an apparent drug overdose, but his cause of death continues to be investigated to this day. On Friday, the man who supplied Skaggs with fentanyl that ultimately killed him has been formally charged.

According to Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times, former Angels communications director Eric Kay has officially been charged by federal investigators in Texas. Kay is facing charges of distributing fentanyl, the drug that was found to be the determining cause of Skaggs’ death.

On July 1, 2019, while on a road trip to play the Texas Rangers, Skaggs was found unresponsive in his hotel room and was later pronounced dead. It was determined that the left-hander had asphyxiated as a result of a drug overdose. The autopsy revealed that he had fentanyl, oxycodone, and alcohol in his system at the time of his death.

After the death of Skaggs, Kay stepped down from his role with the Angels, one he had held for 24 years. At the time, he cited his desire to battle his own opioid addiction, but it was later revealed that he had provided the pitcher with the drugs and had used them with him on several occasions. Kay even insinuated that the club knew of Skaggs’ drug usage and had provided the DEA with the name of five other players that had been using the drugs.

For their part, the Angels continue to deny any knowledge of the drug usage by Kay, Skaggs, or any other players in the organization. That continued on Friday after the charges were announced, with the club noting that it had hired its own investigators and had found no evidence of prior knowledge.

Kay’s attorney tried to downplay the potential of blaming his client, noting that it is hard to blame one person for another’s addictions.

"“I think any attempts to blame Eric Kay for what happened are shortsighted and misguided. When all the facts come out, I think that what happened is a tragedy. What happened is very sad on many levels. But to say it’s any one person’s fault is not right.”"

The prosecutors felt otherwise. Rather than focus on the addiction side of the argument, they instead chose to note that the fentanyl was the ultimate cause of death for Skaggs and that Kay as the supplier was ultimately responsible for the pitcher having the drug.

"“It was later determined that but for the fentanyl in [Skaggs’] system, [Skaggs] would not have died.”"

While the charges further close the sad story of Tyler Skaggs, they also show that we are nowhere near full closure on the subject. A trial will rip open wounds and likely reveal more details surrounding the case, including the level of Skaggs’ addiction and the potential names of the other players involved.

Over the course of seven seasons with the Angels, Tyler Skaggs accumulated a record of 28-38 with a 4.41 ERA and an 8.2 K/9. Following his death, the Angels honored Skaggs’ memory in a multitude of ways. Both Mike Trout and Tommy La Stella wore number 45 at the All-Star Game and the entire team wore his number for the team’s first home game. In that game, his mother threw out the first pitch for a game that ended in a combined no-hitter by Angels pitchers.

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