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Gay SF man died of drug intoxication, report reveals

Assistant Editor

Eric Moren died October 25, 2020. Photo: Courtesy Larry Ackerman
Eric Moren died October 25, 2020. Photo: Courtesy Larry Ackerman  

A 28-year-old gay man whose body was discovered on fire in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood died accidentally of drug intoxication, a report from the San Francisco Medical Examiner's office states.

As the Bay Area Reporter previously reported, Eric Michael Moren was discovered at 4:18 a.m. October 25, 2020 by San Francisco police in the area of Minna Street and Russ Alley.

"The officer tried to use a fire extinguisher to suppress the flames, but the fire extinguisher was faulty and did not work," the report states. "The officer then resorted to using personal water bottles to attempt to extinguish the flames. During this time, the officers were able to call for city paramedics with San Francisco Fire Department paramedics responding to the scene."

The paramedics extinguished the flames, and death was determined on scene, the report states.

Crime scene investigators discovered signs of drug use near the scene, including "an apparent used syringe" and "a disposable lighter, a candle and an electronic device of some kind," the report states.

The report describes Moren as being in what appeared to be a "slight pugilistic" [fighting] stance at the time of his death; and stated that "there was no evidence of soot upon visual inspection of the trachea and microscopic examination of the lungs."

While the death was initially investigated as "suspicious," the report determined the manner of death to be an "accident" caused by "toxic effects of methamphetamine, cocaine, and fentanyl." The report determined that the fire damage occurred post-mortem.

As the B.A.R. reported last year, Moren's ex-husband, Larry Ackerman, told the B.A.R. that Moren had been homeless. Ackerman said the two were married in 2014 but Moren "ran off three months after we got married."

Moren, originally from Columbus, Ohio, was described as very creative.

"He started a house cleaning business," Ackerman said. "It was called Twinky Clean. He had posters all over the Castro and the Mission."

But the business came apart due to Moren's "choices of employees," Ackerman recalled, adding that Moren fell into drug addiction and eventually homelessness, "descending into delusional craziness with meth use."

"In his younger days, he was quite innovative and ambitious," Ackerman said. "He was a great guy."

Ackerman stated to the B.A.R. via email November 9 that there will be a memorial for Moren on July 18, 2022 at 7 p.m. at the intersection of Castro and 18th streets, on what would have been his 30th birthday.

"I am thankful that Eric Michael died gently and not from the fire, however, he was one of the over 700 people who died in 2020 from an accidental overdose," Ackerman stated, urging Mayor London Breed to declare a state of emergency around the drug overdose crisis and open supervised injection sites.

"Eric Michael was not with his usual friends in the Castro area when he died because they had all been swept away by SFPD and [the Department of Public Works] thus disrupting their community which looked out for each other and administered Narcan when needed," Ackerman continued. "The continual harassment of unhoused people is a significant factor leading to poor health and death. This must stop! We must recognize this epidemic in our LGBTQ+ communities and rise up to resolve the factors including lack of housing that lead to so many deaths and dysfunctionalities."

Moren's memorial was held November 12, 2020 in Ohio, as the B.A.R. reported at that time. He was cremated.

Updated, 11/9/21: This article was updated to include comments from Mr. Moren's ex-husband.

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