Newport’s ‘Drunk In Public’ Man Found Dead in Street

Share this:

Mark David Allen, the Newport Beach man who had been arrested over 500 times for public intoxication, died early Wednesday morning, according to officials.

David J. Sperling, a Newport Beach Police Department custody officer and the filmmaker that documented Allen’s life and his struggle with chronic alcoholism, wrote on the “Drunk In Public” film’s website,, and facebook page that Allen died Wednesday morning in Newport Beach. He was 50.

Mark David Allen

“Today is a sad day for those who have followed and been interested in Mark’s life,” Sperling wrote in a note about Allen’s death. “Mark was an icon and his impact will further grow beyond his death.”

Newport Beach police spokeswoman, Kathy Lowe, said police did respond to a call about a person laying in the street at about 5:15 a.m. Wednesday morning on Seashore Drive near 43rd Street. It was unknown if he was breathing and the report called for urgent medical aid.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department Coroner’s Office confirmed on Thursday that the deceased was Allen.

According to the coroner’s report the autopsy was inconclusive, pending further investigation and toxicology results.

There were no signs of a traffic accident or foul play, Lowe said.

He was taken to a local hospital and pronounced dead, she added.

Sperling’s note about Allen described very similar circumstances as the “Person Down” police report.

According to the note, Sperling spoke with a police officer who said he had bought Allen some food earlier today and Allen had sang a few songs.

“A few hours later a radio call went out,” for a person down, the note stated. “Officers & Medics responded and attempted to revive Mark to no avail. When Mark arrived at the hospital, they also made attempts without success.”

Sperling noted that it did not appear that Allen was hit by a vehicle and speculated that he may have had cardiac arrest or a seizure, possibly from “lack of alcohol (ironically highlighting the risks of alcohol withdrawal),” the note stated. Allen developed a seizure disorder after a car accident when he was young.

Although the preliminary reports suggest no blunt force trauma, Sperling wrote, it’s possible Allen may have sustained an injury to his head.

Or it could have been some other “medical issue due to his alcoholism that had finally run its course,” he wrote.

Sperling also wrote that a memorial for Allen may be held at a later date.

The film, titled “Drunk in Public,” followed Allen over 15 years and 450 arrests. The documentary has screened in 14 film festivals and collected five awards. The movie is meant to provide a “non-judgmental objective long term look at the progressive nature of addiction,” according to the film’s official Facebook site.

Allen was in and out of rehab programs for years. The longest he ever voluntarily stayed in a center was for two weeks last year in a program in Lake Elsinore.

“So many identified with his struggle and felt touched by his story,” Sperling wrote in the note. “Mark specifically impacted those that struggle with addiction and inspired many to claim sobriety (even though he rarely had such success). This lends to Mark’s legend as well as the notion that every person matters. Society labeled him a throw away, but the 1000’s of emails and tens of 1000’s of people I have met over the years suggest Mark had more impact that most could hope for themselves. A true irony as society sees it.”

Read the Indy’s original story (from February 2011) about Mark David Allen here.

Share this:


  1. Mark’s life & ‘story’ filled me with emotion. He is my little brother Jack. My ex-husband Larry, who after many attempts at sobriety, left a meeting & took his own life. My brother Jack’s life paralleled Mark’s. Jack died where we grew up, on the streets of Santa Monica. It’s been 16yrs. I miss him. His life mattered to so many. I found sobriety over 30yrs ago.. & like Mark, so many tried to pass the gift & message on to Jack. It wasn’t to be. I do not judge them. I try to ‘carry Jack’s message’ whenever I can. He too, ‘touched’ a lot of lives that he probably didn’t even know. Mark & Jack are all of us – but for God’s grace. The things of this world no longer concern them. Godspeed ~

  2. This story was sent to me by my Brother today, and it reminds me of my brother-in-law Bob who lived in Corona Del Mar. FHusband and Father of 3 beautiful children, and 2 Beautiful Grandchildren that he could not share life with because of his drinking problem. Funny thing, it takes one to know one, as I also have a drinking problem, and i almost got Bob to an AA mtg. once, but it was not to be. Bob got to the point where a drink was more important to him than his family or his dignity. I am coming up on 25 yrs. sober, and I am sad that Bob was never able to “get it”, but in AA we have a saying that “some have to die, so that others may learn.” Bob passed away a few yrs. back of cancer. If only he had turned that corner and gotten sober. A lot of people have a chance at AA, but fewer and fewer are actually staying long enough to get to the “miracle”.
    .We pray in our meetings for the Alcoholic that still suffers. All you need is H.O.W. Honesty, Openmindedness and Willingness, and “you will be amazed before you are halfway through. You are going to know a new freedom and a New Happiness, you will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it. You will comprehend the word Serenity and you WILL KNOW PEACE.” Are these extravagant promises? We think not, they will always materialize if we work for them.” “Until I see you on the happy Road of Destiny, keep coming back”. It works if you work it, and it won’t if you don’t” R.I.P. Mark and Bob…sorry you both took the easier, softer way….
    Just an Alkie Myself.

  3. Alcoholic junkie. Watched this documentary today , on my last day of a driver intervention prgrm. Consequence of first dui yr and half ago. 25 yrs old. Alky heroin addict for 10 yrs. Today 4.5 mo clean sober. Watching my best friend who after a yr sobriety is back using. He was a big inspiration to me. My goal now is to learn tools to live drug free. Attend aa. Wrk w sponsor. Still don’t knw if I’m rdy but I don’t want to die. Want more out of life. Longest period sober. I stayed clean today. And ask my higher powr to help me tomm.

  4. I was a hospital in retrieval of drugs and alcohol, and I brige with part of the life of MARK DAVID ALLEN my brother of pain, the alcohol and drugs do not respect anyone, I have 5 years of sobriety and I say ANYTHING MORE FOR TODAY I WILL NOT, “ONE DAY AT A TIME. AA dice tienen que morir unos para que vivan otros. QUE EN PAZ DESCANCE. RIP. MARK DAVID ALLEN.