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Man, 35, dies after he is found unresponsive in Otay Mesa jail

A 35-year-old man died after he was found unresponsive on a bunk in an Otay Mesa jail Friday morning, sheriff’s officials said.

This marks the fourth death in county jails this month and the 14th of the year.

The incident happened in a housing area at George Bailey Detention Facility, sheriff’s homicide Lt. Chris Steffen said in a news release. The Sheriff’s Department runs the county jails, and its homicide unit investigates all in-custody deaths.

Once deputies were notified that the man was unresponsive, they and medical staffers provided aid, Steffen said. That included administering several doses of naloxone, a drug that is designed to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Attempts to save his life did not work, and the man died at 10:25 a.m.

The cause and manner of his death are under investigation. Steffen said it is too soon to say what caused his death, and said the autopsy may happen this weekend.

Last month, the department announced it was placing kits of Narcan — the brand name of naloxone — in common areas of housing units and visiting centers at the jails. On Friday, a department spokesperson said it is still in the process of installing the kits.

In the week preceding the man’s death, the department reported six overdoses in the jails, including one at George Bailey. There have been 120 suspected overdoses in the jails this calendar year.

According to the department, jail deputies have used Narcan more than 400 times in suspected overdose cases since 2020.

Last year, a record-high 18 people held in San Diego County jail died in custody. Earlier this year, the state auditor issued a sharply critical report prompted by 185 deaths in the county jails over 15 years.

The audit found the Sheriff’s Department failed to prevent and respond to the deaths, and called for the Legislature to force the department to make fixes. The Sheriff’s Department initially pushed back on the audit, rejecting several of its findings and methodology, but has since said it is working to make the changes.



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