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SLO County DA investigating after inmate found dead in County Jail

Posted at 11:19 PM, Sep 06, 2019

On Friday, September 6, jail staff responded to an inmate who was discovered unresponsive in his bunk in a dorm housing unit of the San Luis Obispo County Jail.

Jail staff say they immediately began life-saving measures including CPR and a Narcan injection. Both jail medical staff and outside medical assistance.

Jail staff say the inmate, Ernest Leonard Ortiz, 56, of Grover Beach, remained unresponsive and was later pronounced dead.

Deputies say a short time later, another inmate who had been seen with Ortiz prior to the incident, collapsed from an apparent drug overdose. Jail staff quickly responded with an injection of Narcan and the inmate was subsequently revived.

The incident is being investigated as a possible drug overdose.

The inmate was in a dorm housing unit of the San Luis Obispo County Jail with open bunks which houses 51 inmates.

According to the sheriff's department, the inmate was observed by staff eating lunch and then returning to his bunk. At approximately 1:05 PM an inmate reported Ortiz was unresponsive.

Jails across the state are dealing with incidents of drug overdoses. Just last week at the Santa Barbara County Jail, 18 people including inmates and deputies were treated for suspected opioid overdoses.

Ortiz had been in custody since March, for charges of violating probation and was due to be released July 2020.

The District Attorney's Office is leading the investigation.