1:46 PM PST, December 5, 2022
The upcoming Elizabeth Banks-directed film “Cocaine Bear” may sound like some sort of made-up Hollywood script, cut from the same cloth as “Snakes on a Plane” or “Anaconda,” but the film’s core premise— a bear consuming an obscene amount of the illegal substance — is inspired by a true event.
A forensic document obtained by Inside Edition Digital from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has shed some light into the drugs ingested by the infamous “Cocaine Bear” in Georgia in 1985.
The forensic documents show that the cocaine the bear ingested after it discovered 40 cases of the white powder was 95% pure.
The cocaine was dumped in 1985 by Andrew Carter Thornton II, a former police officer turned lawyer turned drug smuggler, as he was traveling from Colombia with millions of dollars worth of the white powder in a small Cessna airplane.
The plane began to reportedly malfunction and Thornton panicked and jettisoned at least 40 containers of cocaine, according to the Daily Mirror.
Realizing the plane was going to crash, he set the autopilot and directed it to the Atlantic Ocean. Heavily armed, wearing a bulletproof vest and expensive Gucci shoes, and carrying thousands of dollars in cash and a duffel bag containing 77 pounds of cocaine, Thornton jumped from the aircraft. The 77 pounds of coke that he had strapped to his body had a street value of over $14 million, according to reports from the time.
Thornton’s parachute failed to open and he fell to his death. His body was discovered in the driveway of a homeowner in Knoxville, Tennessee.
The plane crashed on land 60 miles away from Thornton’s body.
Knoxville police connected a key found on his body to the plane and ultimately believed Thornton intended to meet someone on the ground to deliver the cocaine.
The 40 containers of cocaine he pushed out ended up in Chattahoochee National Forest in Northern Georgia. Months after the crash, a 175-pound bear was found dead with empty containers of cocaine nearby.
The document says that hair samples, bone and marrow, as well as two glass vials of the decomposed bear were brought to study in late 1985.
“A sample of the marrow taken from the bone were both analyzed and found to be positive for cocaine, and benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine,” the report said.
Also recovered and brought in from the scene for study was a “black nylon parachute bag containing one green duffel bag sealed with Yenti lock containing 34 packages wrapped in tape and plastic bags labeled ‘USA’ containing powder,” according to the document.
The bear was reportedly estimated to have ingested about $15 million worth of cocaine.
“[The bear’s] stomach was literally packed to the brim with cocaine. There isn’t a mammal on the planet that could survive that,” Dr. Kenneth Alonso, the former chief medical examiner at the Georgia State Crime Lab who performed the autopsy on the bear, told the Kentucky for Kentucky Fun Mall. “Cerebral hemorrhaging, respiratory failure, hyperthermia, renal failure, heart failure, stroke. You name it, that bear had it.”
In 1985, Alonso told the Associated Press that the autopsy revealed that the bear absorbed only three or four grams of cocaine into its blood stream but had eaten far more.
While the film the case has inspired appears to tell the story of a bear that embarks on a violent rampage after ingesting a deadly quantity of cocaine, such an outcome wouldn’t be possible in real life.
The film arrives in theaters next year.