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Former Jamis rider Pinkham dies after apparent accidental overdose

  • By Brian Holcombe
  • Published Apr. 15, 2014
  • Updated Apr. 15, 2014 at 6:12 PM EDT
Former Bissell rider Chase Pinkham, 23, died Sunday night. Photo: Pat Malach | Oregon.CyclingAction.com

Chase Pinkham, a former rider for Jamis-Hagens Berman and the Trek-Livestrong development team, died Sunday night, a friend of the Pinkham family has confirmed to VeloNews.

The 23-year-old American rider died of an apparent accidental overdose, according to his family, after years of chronic pain related to a 2008 crash.

Pinkham was a rapidly rising prospect in Utah cycling when he was struck by a car while training in Canada prior to the Tour de l’Abitibi stage race in 2008. Following his recovery from the crash, which resulted in facial injuries requiring multiple reconstructive surgeries, Pinkham attracted the attention of Trek director Axel Merckx and joined the development program for the 2010 season.

From Trek, Pinkham continued onto domestic teams Bissell and Jamis, for whom he rode in 2013.

A story about Pinkham’s 2008 accident and subsequent challenges, ran in the Deseret News in February 2010.

According to a March 9 Facebook post, Pinkham dealt with chronic pain and depression related to his 2008 crash.

“Just wanted to give you an update if you have tried to get a hold of me the last few days by cell phone. I am currently seeking treatment for some severe depression caused by years of dealing with chronic pain from my accident in 2008. I am in a safe and good place, but I do not have access to a cell phone. If you need to get a hold of me please message me here,” wrote Pinkham.

“Dealing with chronic pain, years of medication and depression is something that may make you completely alone and hopeless, even when surrounded by the people that love you. Please remember that if you are suffering currently, or ever end up suffering, that you are not alone and that people love you. There is help available and asking for it only proves that you have the strength to reach out and the desire to change the state you are in. Many suffer, but so few ask for the help that so many people are willing to give.”

According to Alex Kim, a close friend of the Pinkham family, Chase underwent dozens of surgeries related to his 2008 crash and suffered from chronic pain. Pinkham was eliminating his use of narcotic painkillers, according to Kim, earlier this year when he suffered a broken leg at the Valley of the Sun Stage Race in Arizona in February. Following the crash, doctors again prescribed narcotic painkillers for Pinkham. He was house-sitting last weekend in Salt Lake City when friends discovered Pinkham’s body.

“He didn’t take his own life,” Kim told VeloNews. “He was doing well when we saw him Friday and Saturday. This was an accidental overdose.”

Kim said the Pinkham family hoped a positive legacy would come from Chase’s death.

“Chronic pain is a big problem,” he said. “They want people to know this was something he was fighting and can happen to anyone.”

An outpouring of grief followed the news of Pinkham’s death, with former teammates among those offering condolences.

Addie Levinsky contributed reporting to this story.

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Brian Holcombe

Brian Holcombe

Brian Holcombe is the editor of VeloNews.com. Holcombe joined VeloNews in 2009 following years spent introducing students to whitewater kayaking and working in avalanche control, among other more risky ventures. A Master of PR and Marketing Communications, his graduate work at the University of Denver focused on innovation, digital media management and custom publishing. Holcombe is a CSU Ram fan and proud parent, and has been accused of attacking too much on the VN lunch ride. Follow him on Twitter @FCBrian.

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