Daniel Chong, student forgotten in holding cell for 5 days, wins $4.1M in compensation


Ecstasy seizure In Los Angeles in 2009.


US Customs

The Justice Department will pay a student mistakenly left in a holding cell for five days $4.1 million in a settlement in advance of a lawsuit.

In April 2012, Daniel Chong, an engineering student at UC San Diego, was swept up by Drug Enforcement Administration agents during a drug raid on a friend’s off-campus house.

After he was questioned, he was told he would be released, the Los Angeles Times reported. However, Chong was locked in a 5-by-10-foot windowless holding cell, and police didn’t return to let him out until five days later.

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The room had no water, food or toilet, forcing Chong to drink his own urine to stay alive.

"I had to do what I had to do to survive," he told NBC News last May. "I hallucinated by the third day. I was completely insane."

Believing he would die in there, he broke his glasses and attempted to carve a farewell message to his mother onto his arm.

Following his ordeal, Chong was hospitalized for five days for dehydration, kidney failure, cramps and a perforated esophagus. No charges were filed against him.

"This was a mistake of unbelievable and unimaginable proportions," his attorney Julia Yoo told CNN.