A convicted drug trafficker died Tuesday in the Greene County Jail of a suspected overdose from drugs he likely ingested during or after his arrest, according to Sheriff Gene Fischer.
Jeremy P. Withers, 32, of Xenia, was pronounced dead at 6:46 p.m. Tuesday after jail personnel tried CPR and paramedics gave Withers three doses of Narcan. Fischer said it was the first fatality in the jail in at least 26 years.
“We believe that Mr. Withers actually ingested drugs and the (plastic) bag — we’re assuming — we believe that the bag would have opened up after he ate dinner and that was the cause of death,” Fischer said during a Wednesday press conference.
“We’re doing an administrative review of everybody involved in this. I was in (Tuesday) night talking to all the CO’s, the nursing staff that was on duty and it appears that we have followed our procedures very well. I am standing by the employees in this incident.”
Fischer said that three weeks ago at the jail, a female inmate ingested drugs inside a plastic bag, brought it up later and shared drugs with other inmates.
Fischer said the jail doctor works in an emergency room: “He told me that if there would have been an ingestion of the drugs and the bag broke, that they wouldn’t have been able to save him in an emergency room, either.”
Withers was convicted in 2005 for drug trafficking, according to Greene County court records. He also had several arrests for domestic violence, menacing, obstructing official business and driving under suspension.
Montgomery County court records show Withers was charged with escape when he left a transitional corrections facility in September 2015 and didn’t report back. Withers was indicted for that in April 2016.
Withers was a passenger in a car that was stopped on Hawkins Road by a Greene County deputy Tuesday morning, Fischer said. The sheriff said Withers was arrested at 11:22 a.m. for giving false information and having an active warrant from Xenia Municipal Court. Suspected drugs were found during the traffic stop.
Fischer said Withers was brought to the jail in downtown Xenia at 12:29 p.m., booked in at about 2:30 p.m., fingerprinted at 3:42 p.m. and made a couple phone calls ending at about 4:30 p.m.
“He ate dinner just after 5 p.m. and spoke to a nurse at about 5:30 p.m,” Fischer said. “Right around 6 o’clock he was complaining about some things and the nurse and the corrections officers, deputies in the jail escorted him to the first floor where they could keep a closer eye on him in what we call the glass house.
“And at that point, things went bad. He was given CPR, we did apply an AED (defibrillator), which did not require any shocks. The fire division was called. They administered Narcan and he was pronounced dead, once again, at 6:46 p.m.”
Fischer said Withers never told the nurse the nature of his discomfort.
The county is in the process of getting a body scanner at the jail that likely would have detected drugs, Fischer said. The sheriff said county commissioners had basically approved the purchase of a $120,000 scanner before this incident. “Two years ago, we had it in budget,” Fischer said. “We had it rejected the last two years.”
Fischer said Withers should have been searched at the traffic stop and when he was booked into the jail.
“Did he bring it in? We’re usually pretty thorough about checking everybody, the sheriff said. “If he had it hidden in a body cavity, we wouldn’t have caught that. I would have guessed he would have ingested it at the traffic stop.”
Ironically, Fischer said National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) officials on site Tuesday remarked how long it had been since the jail had an in-custody death.
“Sad,” Fischer said. “Sad to sit here in front of you guys and report something like this. We need to figure out what the problem is with heroin and get that addressed.”