By Mandy Valencia
The two men who died of suspected heroin overdoses in Ashland last week have been identified as Colin McKean, the 36-year-old son of actor Michael McKean, and Jordan Roth, the 34-year-old son of a retired Ashland physician.
The two men died in their homes within 24 hours of each other, Ashland police said.
Ashland police Deputy Chief Corey Falls said Colin McKean was found dead by a family member in the 700 block of North Laurel Street shortly after 8 p.m. on Dec. 3.
Roth was found dead by a family friend 24 hours later in the 2400 block of Siskiyou Boulevard.
Police said evidence found at both homes suggested the men died of heroin overdoses. Falls said Monday police are still awaiting laboratory results to confirm the causes of death.
Police are investigating whether the two cases are connected.
“That’s one thing our detectives look into,” Falls said. “Just because these happened on back-to-back nights, it makes it odd, but our detectives just try to gather information.”
The house on Laurel Street is owned by Colin McKean’s father and stepmother, Michael McKean and Annette O’Toole, according to Jackson County property records. Both longtime actors, Michael McKean is probably best known for his role as Lenny in the 1970s TV sitcom “Laverne and Shirley” and as David St. Hubbins in the 1984 movie “This is Spinal Tap.” Colin McKean’s mother is Susan Russell, according to IMDb, an Internet movie database.
Colin McKean was a production assistant for the movies “The Kiss,” “A Mighty Wind” and “Temptation,” and had acting roles in “Vampire Clan” and in “A Spinal Tap Reunion: The 25th Anniversary London Sell-Out,” according to IMDb.
He had worked as a stagehand for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival since 2004, OSF officials said.
“He was a good stagehand and a great individual to have in our company,” said Tom Curtis, OSF’s manager of stage operations, in a statement. “There is a sense of deep sadness throughout the OSF family at the loss of our colleague and friend. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and to his many friends.”
“He loved the job and loved fly fishing and fly-tying and a wide range of music (he was an excellent bass player, a fact that he kept sort of secret), and his dogs Breffix and Krampus,” OSF Marketing Manager Bob Hackett wrote in an email.
The McKean family could not immediately be reached for comment.
Jordan Roth attended Ashland schools through his junior year until he moved to Germantown, Tenn., with his parents, Jim and Rita Roth, and his sister, Natascha. He received his associate degree as a licensed veterinary tech from Bel-Rae Institute of Animal Technology in Denver, Colo., before returning to Ashland, where he most recently worked for Street Rents, a property management company.
“I loved him a lot,” said his father, a retired physician in Ashland. “He was a wonderful person, who intensely cared about animals and friends.
“As far as animals are concerned, he gave CPR to an 8-inch lizard once. He rescued everything. He’s rescued at least four baby raccoons that I know of.”
Jordan Roth liked to snowboard and play baseball. He even played a short stint with a semi-pro team in San Jose, Calif., his father said.
“He’s basically been troubled with depression and feelings of worthlessness and anxiety for years, and treated it legally and illegally,” Jim Roth said. “We always knew everything he took. He was troubled. He knew we cared.”
Jim Roth said Jordan’s heartbroken mother hopes to speak with McKean’s mother at some point so they might console each other.
He said Jordan had tried to overcome his addictions and the family was surprised to hear he died of a suspected overdose.
“It’s become a fairly large community dilemma,” said Susan Nebelsick, health consultant for the pain management program with OnTrack Inc.
The resources needed for treating opiate addiction are limited locally, Nebelsick said, since the Addictions Recovery Center can accept only a limited number of patients who suffer from addictions of all kinds and the OnTrack residential treatment center in Grants Pass has only 20 beds.
“It’s a huge dilemma that has crept into people’s lives that you would never expect,” said Nebelsick. “If you have money you can to go to Eugene, Portland or California, where treatment programs can cost up to $20,000 a month.”
Nebelsick said people who are withdrawing from opiates do not do well as outpatients. The withdrawal symptoms are so painful and scary that most turn to using again.
“Most people go into withdrawal with no support. You get very afraid. If you’re alone, you would take yourself to the emergency room,” Nebelsick said.
A memorial service open to friends and family of Jordan Roth is planned for 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at the Ashland Springs Hotel, 212 E. Main St. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to an animal shelter or the ARC.
Reach reporter Mandy Valencia at 541-776-4486 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story originally appeared in Medford Mail Tribune.