Winning the lottery might be “to die for” in some people’s minds but in the case of one Chicago man, that may be just what happened. One day before receiving the prize, Urooj Kahn, 46, died of what was thought to be natural causes according to the Jan. 7 report in The Washington Post.
Initially, no trauma or suspicious circumstances were noted. Medical examiners, working at the insistence of family members, discovered nearly six months after his death that he died of cyanide poisoning. The Chicago Police department has launched an investigation into the matter.
Stephen Cina, the Cook County Medical Examiner said cyanide poisoning is pretty unusual. He has only seen one or two cases in the 4,500 autopsies he has performed.
Khan owned several local dry cleaners. One day in June, he stopped at a neighborhood 7-Eleven store in the West Rogers Park area of the city near his home. It was here he bought an instant lottery ticket. He scratched it off in the store and began shouting that he’d won a million dollars. He was so excited that he even went back to tip the sales clerk $100.
In a ceremony, he was presented with the oversized check for $425,000, the lump sum amount after taxes that he elected to receive. He was accompanied by his wife, Shabana Ansari, their daughter, Jasmeen Khan and several friends at the ceremony.
The actual check was issued from the state Comptroller’s Office July 19. Khan was pronounced dead the next day at a hospital but no other details have been released pending the investigation.
With no suspicious circumstances, no autopsy was originally done. Basic toxicology reports showed negative for the presence of opiates, cocaine and carbon monoxide. His death was attributed to the narrowing and hardening of coronary arteries.
A very small amount of cyanide powder can be lethal. It causes the body’s cells to have trouble carrying oxygen and the victim dies a very violent, convulsive death similar to suffocation.
Khan’s body will probably be exhumed for further investigation.
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