Report: Novelist's Son Dies of OD After Baby's Drug Death

Daniel Auster was charged earlier this month in daughter's death
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2022 1:48 PM CDT
Report: Novelist's Son Dies of OD After Baby's Drug Death
"This case is painfully tragic, and Mr. Auster remains devastated over the loss of his beloved daughter Ruby," lawyer John Godfrey said at a hearing last week.   (Getty Images/Darwin Brandis)

Novelist Paul Auster has now lost both his only son and his baby granddaughter to drugs. Law enforcement sources tell the New York Post that Daniel Auster, 44, died Tuesday from what is believed to be an accidental drug overdose. Less than 10 days earlier, Auster was charged with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and endangering the welfare of a child in the Nov. 1 overdose death of his 10-month-old daughter, Ruby, the New York Times reports. Ruby was found unconscious in Auster's Brooklyn home and was pronounced dead at Brooklyn Methodist Hospital.

The medical examiner determined that she died from "acute intoxication by the combined effects of fentanyl and heroin," CBS reports. According to court papers, Auster's wife, Zuzan Smith, told police the baby was fine before she left for work that morning. Auster told police that he injected himself with heroin and fell asleep with the baby next to him in the bed. Auster told police that he woke up to find Ruby "blue, lifeless, and unresponsive" and gave her the overdose-reversal drug Narcan before he called 911, the Times reports. The criminal complaint filed against Auster didn't say how the baby ingested the drugs.

According to the Post's sources, investigators believe Auster's overdose was probably accidental because the dose was no more than he would usually take. At a hearing last week, a judge set his bail at $100,000 cash or $250,000 bond. A lawyer said Auster was in drug treatment and had recently been sober. Works including The New York Trilogy and Moon Palace have made Paul Auster one of New York City's most celebrated writers, Gothamist reports. The narrator of his 2003 novel Oracle Night is a writer whose son is a drug addict. (More drug overdose stories.)

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