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, www.defiantlove.com, and facebook page that Allen died Wednesday morning in Newport Beach. He was 50.
“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.