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Spa Says Police Found Drug Paraphernalia Among Aaron Traywick’s Belongings

More details emerge about the biomedical startup CEO's death in a DC float spa on Sunday.
Photo via Aaron Traywick/Facebook.

DC police found drug paraphernalia among Aaron Traywick‘s belongings, a spokesperson for the spa in which the controversial CEO died tells WashingtonianHeather Shaw Menis says the detective who investigated his death told her twice about the paraphernalia. In an email, a spokesperson for the DC police tells Washingtonian the department is unable to confirm that detail.

Traywick led the biomedical startup Ascendance Biomedical and achieved some fame for injecting himself with a self-developed herpes therapy in front of a live audience in February, was found dead at Soulex Float Spa in downtown DC on Sunday.

Shaw Menis says Traywick scheduled a same-day float appointment for 9 AM on Sunday and arrived 20 to 25 minutes late. This was Traywick’s first visit to Soulex, and he signed a standard waiver, Shaw Menis says. Soulex co-owner Pedramin Vaziri arrived at 10:49 AM and asked why someone was still in the float room, because float times typically last 60 minutes. It became clear that more was amiss: The door to Traywick’s room was ajar, even though clients usually float in the nude and typically lock the doors. And the room was dark–its lights should have gone on when Traywick opened the tank’s lid. Vaziri went in to investigate and discovered Traywick unconscious and in the tank, which had automatically drained by then.

Police responded expeditiously to the spa’s 911 call: “The first responders were here within four minutes,” Shaw Menis says. “They closed it out as a crime scene within 18 minutes. There were no safety concerns.”

The spa remained closed on Sunday “because the staff was so shook up,” Shaw Menis says. Soulex has since reopened, and Shaw Menis emphasized that there are no safety concerns with any of the equipment, adding that the spa owners have the “absolute highest standards for flotation therapy.”

Shaw Menis says a detective told her police expect toxicology reports in six to ten weeks.

Deaths in flotation tanks are rare, but published reports have linked them to drug use in the past. In 2008, a 30-year-old UK man died in a tank after taking the horse tranquilizer ketamine and drowning. A 2010 article from the Journal of Forensic Science states that a 50-year-old woman died after mixing over-the-counter sedating drugs, prescription drugs, and alcohol, leading to “probable environmental hypothermia.”

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Kim Olsen
Associate Editor

Kim Olsen joined Washingtonian in 2016 after moving to DC from Pittsburgh, where she earned an MFA in nonfiction writing at the University of Pittsburgh. She lives in Alexandria.