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Man Who Documented Meth Use Dies

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ST. LOUIS (March 27) - A southeast Missouri man who drew global attention for his documentary about how methamphetamine hopelessly ravaged his body died Monday still optimistic his film steers others from the highly addictive stimulant.

"He was extremely satisfied, wanting to do more in getting the word out and showing kids what meth harm does. We didn't get to that point," his father, Jack Bridges, said in a telephone interview hours after his son Shawn's death at age 35. "He didn't want anyone to go through what he did."

Shawn Bridges died shortly after 11:30 a.m. at a hospital in Cape Girardeau, Mo., his father by his side.

"We wanted to keep him with us a lot longer, but we appreciate God's good grace," Jack Bridges said, saying his son's crusade presses on. "We'll still be trying to drive home the point that these drugs are poison, and that people using them are heading the same place Shawn has gone."

Shawn Bridges drew global attention last year with publicity surrounding "No More Sunsets," a 29-minute film shot by a former southern Illinois television videographer at the request of Bridges, a former trucker who sought to immortalize his slow, agonizing decline.

By his family's account, Bridges already had died at least twice well before Monday, his heart so ravaged over the years by meth - a concoction that can include toxic chemicals such as battery acid, drain cleaner and fertilizer - that it stopped and had to be shocked back into beating.

The documentary shows Bridges largely bedridden, his constant companions the catheter that funneled urine out of his body and the feeding tube that stuck from his stomach - fallout from the poor decisions he admitted he made.

"I'd say he's got a 34-year-old body on the outside with 70- to 80-year-old man on the inside," his father told the AP in May of last year.

Roughly 28,000 people sought treatment for meth addiction across the country in 1993, accounting for nearly 2 percent of admissions for drug-abuse care, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. But just a decade later, the meth-related admissions numbered nearly 136,000 - more than 7 percent of the national total for drug-abuse treatment.

Family members have said Shawn Bridges forever was haunted by the dreary day in 1976 when younger brother Jason, barely a year old, died in a car wreck. Shawn was just 4 and nowhere near the accident but inexplicably blamed himself, wanting to trade places with his dead sibling, his father has said.

Jack Bridges says Shawn's lenient upbringing set him on the road to becoming "a little monster. By 16, the kid was a high school dropout and partier." Twice, he tried to kill himself, family members have said.

At 26, Shawn had a heart attack his father has blamed on meth, famous for fatally damaging a chronic user's heart and other internal organs.

Chip Rossetti, who filmed the documentary, said 500 to 600 copies have been sold, with copies sent everywhere from Australia and Canada. Bridges also was profiled on German public television.

Rossetti said Monday he plans a sequel, chronicling Bridge's final year and testimonials by people touched by his awareness push.

"I don't think people will forget what got him to this point," said Rossetti, now a sales manager for an indoor football team in Evansville, Ind. "But what he did with his condition is really the amazing thing."
By JIM SUHR
AP

 
Entry #1,035

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