A Holly Hill man died at the Orangeburg County Detention Center after being found unresponsive early Monday.
Orangeburg County Chief Deputy Coroner Sean Fogle said the cause of death for 34-year-old Thurston Massey has not yet been determined. Fogle said results from an autopsy are expected later this week.
State Law Enforcement Division spokesman Thom Berry said that agency has been called in to determine what happened.
“SLED has been requested to investigate,” Berry said. “We have an agent investigating the incident.”
Orangeburg County Administrator Harold Young said Massey was brought in by the S.C. Highway Patrol.
“From my understanding, it was a routine thing,” Young said. Massey walked in the door and refused medical treatment, but was still assessed by a nurse.
Refusing medical care, “is not uncommon for people charged with DUI,” Young said.
Massey is the fifth person to die in custody at the Orangeburg jail in about a year.
Money Lee Frazier was found dead in his cell in October 2012, but his cause of death has not yet been determined. Young said the jail has been cleared in that death.
Two other inmates committed suicide by asphyxiation, while another died of a heart condition.
Massey was being held in the jail infirmary, where people arrested for driving under the influence can be held while they detoxify for their own safety, Young said.
He was found unresponsive by correctional officers around 6:22 a.m. The officers told investigators he “was in a slumped position in his single-occupancy cell,” an Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office incident report states.
Investigators noted the man had no obvious signs that would point to a cause of death. They have not indicated that foul play is suspected, but state law requires an investigation of each in-custody death.
Young said it took Emergency Medical Services only six minutes to reach the infirmary. Once they did what they could for the man, the cell was taped off to prevent any contamination should the incident turn into a criminal investigation.
“I’m 100 percent confident we followed protocol,” in the situation, Young said. The death is not a sign of an ongoing problem, he said.
Orangeburg County has had sole control of the jail for about a year. Following Frazier’s death, it hired a medical contractor to evaluate and serve patients, and has a special contract for those with mental challenges.
It has also upgraded its system for watching inmates and its camera system.
Contact the writer: email@example.com or 803-533-5516.