Jail inmates OK after overdoses

Investigation continues on how drug got into jail

WARREN — Three inmates who were found unresponsive from suspected opioid overdoses Sunday morning at the Trumbull County Jail were back in isolated cells Monday under lockdown for medical reasons, according to Chief Deputy Joseph Dragovich of the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office.

Meanwhile, sheriff’s deputies are investigating how the drug got in the facility that recently activated body scanners to detect potential contraband.

The three men, Scott Herrman, 36, Christopher Medzie, 52, and Ryan Wright, 28, were pronounced fit to return to jail by medical staff at St. Joseph Warren Hospital after they were revived with Narcan, a naloxone medication administered to block the effects of opioids. Corrections officers administered the medication over a 45-minute period Sunday morning, Dragovich said.

All three inmates were housed in the same pod, which was subject to an intensive search afterward. Dragovich said suspected opioids were found and shipped to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation in Richfield for testing.

“The amount found would have been a good bust on the streets,” Dragovich said.

The matter is under investigation by officers of the Trumbull-Ashtabula Group joint drug task force.

Dragovich said a person of interest, an inmate from another pod, has been also put into isolation. That inmate, who was not identified, was taken into the jail about seven to 10 days before the facility’s new body scanners were put into operation, Dragovich said. He was put through the scanners after the overdoses Sunday and no contraband was found on him then, Dragovich said.

Maj. Daniel Mason, jail administrator, said corrections officers began using the scanners on new inmates early Sept. 15. Jail staff trained on the new $118,000 OD Security North America body scanner as late as Sept. 14, and Dragovich said the manufacturer of the machine has been called in to help with the investigation.

Mason said the scanners had so far been successful in denying contraband, including drugs, from entering the jail. He said several inmates started emptying their pockets before going through the scanner.

In light of Sunday’s overdoses, Dragovich said he will be reviewing security procedures in each of the pods. The pod where the overdose took place has a security level one step above minimum, he said.

“We are going to be ticking up security and are determined to prevent drugs from getting in,” Dragovich said.

Dragovich said none of the inmates who overdosed are suspected of bringing drugs into the facility.

The overdoses started at 7:46 a.m. Sunday when a commotion was detected in pod two, Dragovich said.

“The first overdose was given a dose of Narcan at 7:53 a.m. and then a second dose two minutes later,” he said.

A second overdose victim was discovered at 8:06 a.m., the report states, about nine minutes after the first ambulance arrived at the jail. A second ambulance arrived at 8:18 a.m, and by that time a third overdose victim was found, Dragovich said. All victims were given Narcan and taken to the hospital by 8:30 a.m., he said.

The jail incident Sunday came after a period from Sept. 15 to 22 that saw 49 opioid overdoses in Trumbull County. Dragovich said there have been four overdoses in the jail so far in 2017, with the first one occurring in May.