Sheriff: San Diego County jail inmate died Monday from medical condition

A 63-year-old inmate who went into medical distress last week at an Otay Mesa jail died Monday in a hospital, San Diego County sheriff's officials said Wednesday.

An autopsy by the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office determined Dennis Lee Curry died from complications of hepatic cirrhosis — cirrhosis of the liver — and determined the manner of death to be natural, sheriff's Lt. Michael Blevins said in a statement.

Jail deputies were notified by another inmate around 9 a.m. Saturday that Curry was in his housing cell in need of medical assistance, Blevins said. Deputies responded and found Curry "in medical distress," but alert and able to speak.

"Curry complained of pain to his head and chest, but had no visible injuries," Blevins said in the statement.

After medical staff at the jail examined Curry, medics took him to a hospital, where his condition worsened and he was put on life-support, Blevins said.

He died about 11:10 a.m. Monday at the undisclosed local hospital.

Curry was in custody for outstanding warrants related to driving under the influence and drug charges, according to the Sheriff's Department. His is at least the fifth in-custody death this year in San Diego County.

Three inmates died in the 10 days between Feb. 7 and Feb. 16, and a fourth inmate died about four weeks later.

Joseph Castiglione, 56, died Feb. 7, a few hours after being found in medical distress at the Vista Detention Facility, where he'd been booked early that morning. Authorities said he died from acute methamphetamine toxicity after ingesting a large amount of plastic-wrapped methamphetamine, likely before his arrest.

Michael Wilson, 32, collapsed Feb. 14 in his cell at the downtown San Diego Central Jail and later died. Authorities said Wilson had a heart condition and died of natural causes.

Derek Oak King, 45, died Feb. 16 at Oceanside’s Tri-City Medical Center, where he’d been hospitalized for three weeks because of a serious pre-existing medical condition. He was ruled to have died by natural causes from colon cancer.

Ivan Ortiz, 26, died by suicide on March 18 while being housed by himself in a psychiatric observation cell at the Central Jail. He was facing trial to determine whether he was legally insane at the time of his alleged crimes.

San Diego County has been plagued for years by deaths inside its jail system. At least 138 people have died in San Diego County jail custody since 2007, according to department records and news releases.

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