Archive for Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Autopsy report’s best explanation of Douglas County Jail inmate’s death is ‘seizure activity’

July 17, 2012


Related document

Rachel Hammers autopsy ( .PDF )

According to an autopsy report from the state’s Office of the Coroner, a “cause of death cannot be established directly” for a Douglas County Jail inmate who died in May.

Rachel M. Hammers, 33, was found unresponsive at the jail by correctional staff at 9:51 a.m. on May 12.

Staff members initiated CPR, and Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical workers transported her to Lawrence Memorial Hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.

Hammers tested negative for alcohol or other drugs, and, according to the autopsy report, “the best explanation for cause of death is sudden death associated with seizure activity.”

The autopsy also noted Hammers’ history of seizure activity in 2010 during withdrawal from alcohol use.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation, which investigates inmate deaths, has not yet concluded its investigation into Hammers’ death, said deputy director Kyle Smith.

According to jail records, Hammers was booked into jail at 5:45 p.m. the day before she died on a warrant for failing to appear in district court. According to court records, the warrant was related to a February guilty plea to DUI, and prosecutors were seeking to revoke her probation.

Hammers was a 1997 graduate of Perry-Lecompton High School and a 2003 Kansas University graduate.

Hers was the first in-custody death at the jail, 3601 E. 25th St., since it opened in 1999, according to the sheriff’s office.


christiangirl93 5 years, 9 months ago

Alcoholism is a deadly thing. I know that the jail staff did everything they could to save her. But when you are that deep into the disease there isn't much hope.

asixbury 5 years, 9 months ago

She was clean and sober when she went to the police station to turn herself in. She was attempting to start a new life by facing her responsibilities. It is truly sad this happened when she took the first step. Why wasn't she being supervised? That is the question...

christiangirl93 5 years, 9 months ago

If she was clean and sober then why should she have been supervised? And what do you mean by supervised? If she was suicidal she would have been placed on watch and supervised 24/7. If she was just another jail inmate she was placed in general pop. A seizure is a tricky thing. It could have happened when she was in the day hall and seen, otherwise if she was in her cell it would be harder to have detected unless she pressed the button which is like a telephone in the cell that calls the guards but if you are having a seizure and it happened while she was in her cell it's a different story. The guards do checks on all inmates that are locked in their cells. Every 15 minutes I believe but I'm not sure what the time frame of the cell checks is. Alcoholism can put a addict/user in a seizure and kill them instantly.

asixbury 5 years, 9 months ago

If they check on cells often enough, perhaps they would have caught her before it was too late. Or maybe there was no time. Like I said, it is very sad.

christiangirl93 5 years, 9 months ago

If you designed the system of jail ethics would you devise a inmate check system on the basis that guards check on inmates every second? If you did ever design this I would love to hear your opinion on how this worked.

christiangirl93 5 years, 9 months ago

Lets say you are 65 and you have fallen and cant get up. When you press your life alert is it plausible that life alert should have been watching you shower?

asixbury 5 years, 9 months ago

What is your problem? I know this family and the real story behind this lady. She was starting to get her life back together and the first step she took was to turn herself in and deal with her responsibilities. She was sober. Read the story above, which indicates that there was no alcohol or drugs in her system. This is extremely unfortunate. The jail should check the inmates at least every hour to help prevent deaths. I'm not saying this action would have prevented hers, but it could prevent others. Learn from this and hopefully it does not happen again.

The family had just gotten their daughter back, just to have her taken away so suddenly. Makes my heart break.

christiangirl93 5 years, 9 months ago

I'm saying you need to use common sense and understand that alcohol related seizures can happen at any time in the user. The rest is for you to decide but it seems you don't understand.

asixbury 5 years, 9 months ago

You do not understand my point, clearly. I never said anything about the reason for her seizure, I was saying it's tragic that this happens after she gets sober and straightens out her life. That is the point.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 9 months ago

Here comes our resident expert on everybody's problems...trolling along...

Jayhawk_4_Life 5 years, 9 months ago

if she was prescribed to some anti-seizure medication did she have access to it in jail?

christiangirl93 5 years, 9 months ago

Yep, there is a med line that hands out inmate meds to inmates that have notified the jail of what medication he or she is on. Duh.

asixbury 5 years, 9 months ago

Your name is not very fitting. Or is it?

christiangirl93 5 years, 9 months ago

It is of no relation to what we are talking about. It is just something that I had to endure.

christiangirl93 5 years, 9 months ago

I studied the penal system for years out of a curiosity. I know about jail conduct code out of research. You got a problem with knowledge?

asixbury 5 years, 9 months ago

You act like you know what happened in this particular case, which clearly you do not.

christiangirl93 5 years, 9 months ago

I know my basic human right to make my opinion exposed to the masses on a public forum is a basic right and freedom of speech. You don't like it move to Russia.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 9 months ago

Wrong. This is speech on a private venue. The Constitution doesn't apply.

asixbury 5 years, 9 months ago

It bothers me because this is a human being we're talking about. Have some dignity and common decency. Judging by the number in your avatar, you are only around 19 years old. Maybe a few more years of experience will teach you how to better act in situations such as this. Or maybe you simply do not have manners.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 9 months ago

asixbury christiangirl93 is just being in a bad mood so ignore her. It is horrific that Rachel lost her life in such a manner. It doesn't make sense to me that things like this happen while there are bums out there still drinking and apparently thriving.

asixbury 5 years, 9 months ago

I normally don't get worked up about issues on here. This one hits close to home.

asixbury 5 years, 9 months ago

Drive under the influence? She wasn't driving, nor was she drunk. Did you comment on the wrong article?

auntmimi210 5 years, 9 months ago

Directly from the article: "According to court records, the warrant was related to a February guilty plea to DUI, and prosecutors were seeking to revoke her probation." That's why she was in jail, b/c of a DUI. Maybe you didn't read the article.

asixbury 5 years, 9 months ago

Yes, but that DUI had nothing to do with her dying. THAT is the point of the article.

shortone 5 years, 9 months ago

The "jailers" are just that high priced babysitters. If they were doing their job instead of maybe texting, checking email or playing on the internet they might have caught this sooner. There is quite a bit of playing around maybe the babysitters need a babysitter?

somebodynew 5 years, 9 months ago

mikekt - maybe you missed the part of the article that said the KBI is INVESTIGATING. That is an outside agency that is responsible for investigating all in-custody deaths. This investigation is on-going and I am quite sure they got all the records for what meds were prescribed and contacts any outside doctors, etc.

But, then I guess you couldn't rant and rave if you had read and understood that.

ferrislives 5 years, 9 months ago

@shortone, you obviously don't know what you're talking about with respect to the "jailers" at the DC jail, but maybe you're just a former "inmate". I hope that you don't own a glass house. Just saying...

To the jail staff, thank you all for trying so hard to save her life. I know that I (and many others) would appreciate your true diligence if it was my daughter or son. To her family, I cannot imagine your grief, and you are all in my prayers.

shortone 5 years, 9 months ago

Nope, no former "inmate" here, just heard it from the horses mouth.

ferrislives 5 years, 9 months ago

Aka heresay...or horsesay in your case.

fourkitties 5 years, 9 months ago

Well checks done at state prisons and douglas county are every 30 minutes. You forget that a jailer may have already done his or her well check and the person died between that time. she was prnounced dead at 9:51 looks to me the guard was probably either right on time with the well check or early. and if you've ever been in jail there is a huge list of questions about what medications your are currently on. If she was given any meds including detox meds and had safety percautions and she still died. They did everything they could. The jail staff is wonderful and takes this stuff seriously.

DillonBarnes 5 years, 9 months ago

Anyone read the autopsy? According to it, Rachel Hammers was checked only 10 minutes before she was found unresponsive. The staff took immediate action and did everything within their power to revive Miss Hammers. It would be hard to accuse jail staff of any negligence given that information.

This is a really unfortunate situation, and my thoughts go out to her family, I hope this news brings some closure.

werekoala 5 years, 9 months ago

Its always a cost-benefit decision. If we outfitted every inmate with a full-time vital sign so monitor, we MIGHT have been able to prevent this. Key word, might. People vary so widely it is very difficult, even in the best hospitals, to design a system that can flag dangerous changes, without overwhelming the system with boy-who-cried-wolf false positives caused by normal variations, emotional stress, or misreading equipment. And even if you did that, you need a staff trained to interpret and respond to those readings appropriately for a person's age, gender, physical condition, and personal medical history. In other words, you have to train jail staff (and pay them) to be paramedics/nurses.

In short, could we turn the jail into an ICU? Sure, if you don't mind your property taxes doubling. And even in the ICU, people die, all the time. So we would be looking at spending millions more each year, for a chance (no guarantee) of saving one life every 15 years. This is in a state that is willing to say no to providing basic health care to its poorest residents, for free.

This is a tragedy, and my heart goes out to her family. But given the realities we live in, I think it's unreasonable to suggest negligence on the part of a jail staff who did check on her ten minutes before she died.

asixbury 5 years, 9 months ago

Well, in that case, I am very glad they did what they could for her. I don't blame them. I just know, personally, how it has affected her family. Like I said before, they just got their daughter back just to have her ripped away so suddenly. Tragic.

msezdsit 5 years, 9 months ago

Hmm, something seems suspicious here.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.