GBI: Alcohol, Anti-Smoking Drug Helped Cause Walker's Suicide

2:28 PM, Mar 20, 2010   |    comments
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An anti-smoking drug, combined with heavy drinking, contributed to Warner Robins Mayor Donald Walker's suicide, according to autopsy results.

The results released by Houston County coroner Danny Galpin confirmed that his cause of death was death by self-inflicted gunshot wound. The manner of death was ruled as suicide.

The GBI crime lab report says, "He was taking Chantix to stop smoking, which caused severe depression. On the day of his death, his severe depression caused him to consume large quantities of alcohol. This acute ethanol intoxication state, superimposed upon his severe depression, severely impaired his remembering, reasoning and cognitive abilities."

In 2008, an FDA public-health advisory warned that Chantix could cause mood and behavior changes, including "anxiety, nervousness, tension, depressed mood, unusual behaviors and thinking about or attempting suicide."

The GBI report says Walker's blood alcohol level when he entered the Houston Medical Center was 389 mg/dl. That's nearly five times the drunken-driving limit of .08% or 80 mg/dl, according to the Centers for Disease Control.


Walker was Warner Robins' mayor for 14 years. He died Sept. 28, 2009 in the midst of a re-election campaign. His wife later told 13WMAZ that Walker was depressed about tax problems and their possible effect on his re-election.

The autopsy report gives this account of his death: "Wife heard a gunshot. Went in bedroom and found him supine on bed with an apparent gunshot wound of the head. EMS called. Transported to Houston Medical Center ER by ambulance. He was stabilized & transported by ambulance to Medical Center of Central Georgia. He remained in the Emergency Department until his death."

The report says Chantix was one of eight medications found in Walker's system.

 "Everybody, especially close friends and family have got the big question: Why?" says Walker's friend, Sonny Watson.

Watson say he knew Donald Walker the day he was born, but it's the day of his death that still lingers in his mind.

"Talking to him on occasions and weekly and that kind of thing, about the campaign, about city business and other things and all at once it was shut off, it didn't ease off, it was just gone," says Watson.

Looking over the report, Warner Robins City Councilman Bob Wilbanks says six months later he still feels for Walker's family and the city's loss.

"Mayor Walker was not a perfect person, none of us are, but Warner Robins was as close to being perfect the day he died that it will ever be," says Wilbanks.

For Watson the findings bring some closure.

He says, "It was something that was kind of beyond his control, in deep depression and that kind of thing, it answers a little bit of why, not all of it, but a little bit."

And says he'll keep the good memories with the man he called one of Warner Robins' greatest leaders.











Check back with 13WMAZ. com for updates on this story today.



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