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Surry County jail inmate dies

For the third time in less than a year, a Surry County Detention Center inmate has died.

Major Scott Hudson of the Surry County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Monday that an inmate at the Surry County Detention Center had a “medical emergency” within the complex early Friday morning, Jan. 27.

“Detention staff started appropriate medical care and notified Surry County Communications (E-911) to have advance medical care (Surry County Emergency Medical Services and Dobson Rescue Squad) to respond to the detention center,” Hudson said.

Surry County EMS responded and raced the inmate to Northern Regional Hospital for treatment for the medical emergency.

“After the inmate arrived at the hospital, the inmate conditioned worsened,” Hudson said, adding the inmate died about five hours after arriving at the hospital.

Officials with the sheriff’s office, which oversees and staffs the detention center, did not release the inmate’s name, nor the medical emergency.

This follows the death in February 2022 of Ashley Michelle Hicks, 31, who died after what Sheriff Steve C. Hiatt called a “medical emergency” while in custody at the center.

Hudson reported at that time Hicks had been brought to the jail by officers from the Mount Airy Police Department at around 5 p.m. and after having been arrested earlier that day on charges of failure to appear in court.

A report filed by the sheriff’soffice on her death said a corrections officer conducted rounds at 7:05 p.m. and Hicks was fine. Forty minutes later she was found “in distress” and she died at 8:23 p.m.

The report by the jail inspector’s office said no additional action was required and found “there were no deficiencies determined during the compliance investigation.”

Three months later, in May, Timothy Norris Cox also experienced a medical emergency at the detention center and died. Emergency lifesaving efforts were made but Cox died at the jail.

The report Hiatt made to the jail inspector listed the preliminary cause of death as “natural.”

New jail progress

County officials are awaiting the completion and opening of the new Surry County Detention Center. The current facility is rated for 125 inmates but regularly houses many more than that.

At the new facility there have capacity for nearly three times as many inmates. A new facility will be improved conditions for both inmates and those charged with keeping them safe, although authorities have not given any circumstances under which the three deaths may have been prevented in the larger facility.

Commissioner Mark Marion told members of a housing task force meeting at The Moore House last year that he had been on site to see some of the cells being installed at the facility. He has said the new jail’s additional housing with additional beds, improved security features, and space to hold drug education classes inside the jail can make it a safer place to work — and more productive for the inmates.

The county has identified the need to develop substance abuse disorder education and job skills training for inmates at the Surry County jail to improve the prospects for inmates upon release.



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