A Santa Clarita Valley woman found dead in a Sheriff’s Station jail cell was ruled an accidental death as a result of a heroin overdose, a coroner’s official said Monday.
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The drug-overdose death would represent the fourth overdose death in the Santa Clarita Valley this year, matching the 2013 total for drug-related deaths, officials said.
“This was a overdose,” said Lt. Fred Corral of the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office, “it was accidental death due to the effects of morphine.”
Jenna Coleman, 27, of Valencia, was declared dead by emergency personnel shortly after noon during a routine jail-cell check June 28, officials said.
Heroin is a morphine derivative, Corral said, and the report formally lists morphine, but heroin was the ingested form of the drug.
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station personnel found Coleman unresponsive, lying on her bed in her cell, during a June 28 security check of her cell, according to a Nixle news release sent out by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau.
Homicide Bureau detectives are still investigating the cause of the death and the means of ingestion.
The announcement from the Coroner’s Office comes the same day city of Santa Clarita officials announced their “Pills Kill: A Prescription to Addiction” symposium.
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Sgt. Bob Wachsmuth said the station has looked into three drug-related deaths so far this year, not including Coleman’s.
Wachsmuth is an investigator with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station’s J-Team, which tracks drug-related crime and works to rehabilitate offenders, in addition to investigating and incarcerating them.
Coleman, a beautician by trade according to Sheriff’s Station arrest records, was taken into custody the Thursday before her death, on June 26, for possession of a controlled substance. She was being held in lieu of $10,000 bail.
The numbers indicate a potential rise in the number of heroin deaths for 2014 after a year of sharp decline for Santa Clarita Valley drug overdose deaths.
The number of drug-overdose deaths climbed for the first three years the station tracked the numbers, according to Wachsmuth in a previous interview, which was, at least in part, a product of J-Team officials gaining a better understanding of the issue and the numbers.
There were five drug-related overdoses in 2010; seven in 2011; 16 in 2012, and four in 2013.
“The deaths were predominantly opiate-driven,” Wachsmuth said in November.
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Source: Santa Clarita News