PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The family of a man who was found dead in a bathroom at PPG Paints Arena still has many questions.
On Oct. 5, 2019, Tim Helbig — working as a sound technician for AT&T Sports during the Penguin-Blue Jacket game — told co-workers he was in pain and had to leave.
On Oct. 7th, his body was found inside a locked family bathroom on the arena’s third-floor concourse.
It appears Helbig had been in that bathroom — undiscovered — for more than 40 hours, and his family is asking why no one checked the bathroom sooner.
“How is it that a state-of-the-art facility like the Pittsburgh Paints Arena doesn’t have a protocol in effect where that series of events that you just outlined, how is that allowed to happen?” asked Keith McMillen, the family’s attorney.
Since that time, the family has had other unanswered questions, including whether Helbig could have been saved if he had been found earlier.
But now Medical Examiner Dr. Karl Williams has determined a cause of death.
“We determined that a primary cause was a drug overdose, a combined drug overdose,” Williams said.
According to the family, Helbig had been in a car crash two months before, sustaining internal injuries and broken ribs.
They believe he was likely self-medicating with opioids.
Attorney McMillen says they’re concerned Helbig could have survived had someone discovered him that night and administered the opioid blocker Narcan.
McMillen: If you get that drug in a period of time, in this window, then the effects of the opioids are quite reversible and, there’s every reason to believe Tim would be alive today.
Williams: You go into a restroom, you collapse on the floor, you presume that was a short period of time. There’s no scientific evidence to support that though.
Dr. Williams says it’s more likely Helbig died shortly after entering the bathroom, well before the bathroom should have been checked after the game.
But he says determining the time of the death — in this case, especially — is a medical uncertainly.
“It’s always some sort of guess, and the further you get away from the time of death, the more uncertain it becomes,” he said.
For its part, ASM Global — which manages the arena — has had little to say about Helbig’s death or its procedures in checking the facility after events.
They released a statement, saying:
“We are sorry for the Helbig family’s loss and have cooperated with authorities during the investigation. As this is a legal matter, we cannot comment further.”