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Chase Pinkham, a former rider for Jamis-Hagens Berman and the Trek-Livestrong development team, died Sunday night, a friend of the Pinkham family has confirmed to VeloNews.
The 23-year-old American rider died of an apparent accidental overdose, according to his family, after years of chronic pain related to a 2008 crash.
Pinkham was a rapidly rising prospect in Utah cycling when he was struck by a car while training in Canada prior to the Tour de l’Abitibi stage race in 2008. Following his recovery from the crash, which resulted in facial injuries requiring multiple reconstructive surgeries, Pinkham attracted the attention of Trek director Axel Merckx and joined the development program for the 2010 season.
From Trek, Pinkham continued onto domestic teams Bissell and Jamis, for whom he rode in 2013.
A story about Pinkham’s 2008 accident and subsequent challenges, ran in the Deseret News in February 2010.
According to a March 9 Facebook post, Pinkham dealt with chronic pain and depression related to his 2008 crash.
“Just wanted to give you an update if you have tried to get a hold of me the last few days by cell phone. I am currently seeking treatment for some severe depression caused by years of dealing with chronic pain from my accident in 2008. I am in a safe and good place, but I do not have access to a cell phone. If you need to get a hold of me please message me here,” wrote Pinkham.
“Dealing with chronic pain, years of medication and depression is something that may make you completely alone and hopeless, even when surrounded by the people that love you. Please remember that if you are suffering currently, or ever end up suffering, that you are not alone and that people love you. There is help available and asking for it only proves that you have the strength to reach out and the desire to change the state you are in. Many suffer, but so few ask for the help that so many people are willing to give.”
According to Alex Kim, a close friend of the Pinkham family, Chase underwent dozens of surgeries related to his 2008 crash and suffered from chronic pain. Pinkham was eliminating his use of narcotic painkillers, according to Kim, earlier this year when he suffered a broken leg at the Valley of the Sun Stage Race in Arizona in February. Following the crash, doctors again prescribed narcotic painkillers for Pinkham. He was house-sitting last weekend in Salt Lake City when friends discovered Pinkham’s body.
“He didn’t take his own life,” Kim told VeloNews. “He was doing well when we saw him Friday and Saturday. This was an accidental overdose.”
Kim said the Pinkham family hoped a positive legacy would come from Chase’s death.
“Chronic pain is a big problem,” he said. “They want people to know this was something he was fighting and can happen to anyone.”
An outpouring of grief followed the news of Pinkham’s death, with former teammates among those offering condolences.
Goodbye Chase Pinkham.You were a supremely nice kid and one of the kindest people I have ever met.Rest in Peace.I hope you are in peace now
— Reed (@UberReed) April 15, 2014
I am absolutely deviated to hear my former rider Chase Pinkham assed away last night. He was such a nice and kind person. You will be missed
— axelmerckx (@axelmerckx) April 15, 2014
Glad I had the chance to enjoy some fantastic adventures & conversations with Chase Pinkham. RIP my friend. So so sad pic.twitter.com/Th4WazS2P5
— Tyler Wren (@twrenegade) April 15, 2014
Rest in peace Chase Pinkham.
— Taylor Phinney (@taylorphinney) April 15, 2014
So very sorry to hear about the passing of cyclist Chase Pinkham. Only 23. Too young, gone too soon. Thoughts & prayers with his family.
— Sean Petty (@spetty80) April 15, 2014
Shocked and sad to hear Chase Pinkham passed away, thoughts are with his family. Rest in peace Chase hope your in a better place.
— Jesse Sergent (@jessesergent) April 15, 2014
Rip Chase Pinkham, he was a cool teammate back in 2010, absolutely adored the sport. Real numbers & science guy. Thoughts with all affected.
— Alex Dowsett (@alexdowsett) April 15, 2014
We are very sad to learn of the passing of Chase Pinkham. A rider who's heart was full of love, always wore a smile, and lived for the bike.
— Jamis Hagens Berman (@TeamJamisHB) April 15, 2014
Addie Levinsky contributed reporting to this story.