County Jail Inmate Dies

The man's passing is the third in-custody death in Santa Cruz County this year.

A 47-year-old man incarcerated in the Santa Cruz County Jail died Tuesday evening, the Sheriff's Office reported.

The inmate, whose name has not been released, was found unresponsive on his bunk around 6:42 p.m. Despite life-saving efforts, he was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Sheriff's Office, which manages county jail operations.

Foul play is not suspected, but an autopsy will be performed. Jail staff reported that the man had a history of drug use and was going through withdrawal at the time of his death.

He is the third inmate to die while in custody at the Santa Cruz County Main Jail on Water Street this year.

Rickey Pritchard, 59, of Aptos had a heart attack in the jail intake area and died in October. He had been arrested on suspicion of DUI and was being booked when he collapsed.

Christy Ann Sanders, a 27-year-old San Lorenzo Valley woman, died at the jail in August. An autopsy determined she died of cause was bilateral pulmonary atelectasis with anoxia, or collapse of the lung, due to intravenous heroin abuse. Sanders was was serving a 60-day sentence for a probation violation at the time.

The man who died Tuesday was from Santa Cruz and had been arrested by Santa Cruz police for a probation violation and drug charges on Monday, according to Lt. Shea Johnson, who oversees the jail.

Correctional staff at the jail check on inmates at least once an hour, if not more frequently, Lt. Steve Carney has said. There also are nurses and doctors on staff at the jail to deal with medical emergencies.

Johnson noted that in addition to the hourly checks by correctional officers, jail medical staff were looking in on the man every two hours because of the withdrawal symptoms he was suffering.


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