An inmate recently collapsed while under medical care at the San Luis Obispo County Jail and was pronounced dead soon thereafter, marking the fourth inmate death in less than a year.
According to a Sheriff’s Office press release, 63-year-old David Osborn Sr. had been complaining of a blood sugar imbalance on the morning of Jan. 11. He was taken into custody on suspicion of being drunk in public—after having been released on a separate drunk-in-public arrest and allegedly violating his probation earlier that day—and medically cleared at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center before booking. Osborn was then transferred from the jail’s Intake Release Center to the medical office. While sitting on a bench outside the office, he collapsed in the presence of custody staff.
Staff attempted to resuscitate him and transported Osborn to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9:57 a.m. The results of an autopsy and toxicology screening weren’t available as of press time, and the Sheriff’s Office had yet to determine a cause of death.
Osborn marks the fourth inmate death since Rudy Joseph Silva died of the H1N1 flu virus on Jan. 27, 2014. Josey Richard Meche died in March of that year, which was later ruled to be the result of a methamphetamine-induced heart attack. Most recently, Timothy Richard Janowicz died of “acute heroin toxicity,” the Sheriff’s Office determined.
Last year marked the highest annual death rate at the jail since 2001, when there were also three deaths in a single year. There were no inmate deaths in 2013, and two in 2012. The jail has a California Board of State and Community Corrections rated capacity of 526 inmates.
Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Tony Cipolla said the recent deaths are unrelated.
“These are all three very different deaths, so there’s not a trend, per se,” he told New Times. “And so we, of course, investigate every death in the jail."
Cipolla said medical staff—both Sheriff’s officials and staff from Sierra Vista—performed multiple checks on Osborn. He added that Osborn was about to receive additional medical attention before he collapsed.
Asked whether the office performs inspections or investigations of its medical treatment, Cipolla said the jail receives annual tours from the Board of State and Community Corrections, underwent a spot tour by the county grand jury last year, and “we are constantly looking at ways that we can ensure the health and safety of the inmates.”