A 26-year-old woman who died while in custody at Silverdale Correctional Facility was withdrawing from heroin, according to a preliminary report from the Hamilton County Medical Examiner's office.
Madison Bailee Deal died from pneumonia that she contracted after she inhaled vomit into her lungs while in withdrawal, according to the report. She survived the pneumonia for at least two days before dying on Aug. 18, according to the autopsy.
Attorneys for Deal's family claim that Silverdale officials failed to provide adequate medical care for Deal, who repeatedly complained about vomiting, weakness, chest pain, dehydration and trouble breathing in phone calls to her mother just days before she died.
In one call, Deal asked her mother to try to get her transferred from the jail to a hospital. But Deal wasn't taken to a hospital until after she collapsed inside her cell on Aug. 16.
"The Silverdale personnel just ignored her pleas, and ignored the pleas of the other inmates to get her help," attorney Tom O'Neal said. "And by the time Silverdale authorities took her to Erlanger, it was too late to revive and save her."
Medical records show Silverdale officials knew Deal was withdrawing from heroin and knew she was vomiting, attorney Bryan Hoss said. Both attorneys are representing the family; O'Neal is Deal's great-uncle.
Jonathan Burns, a spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America, the private company that runs Silverdale, said in an email Tuesday that "privacy considerations prevent us from disclosing any inmate's health information. The health and safety of the individuals entrusted to our care is our top priority."
Silverdale personnel gave Deal shots of an anti-nausea drug in the days before she died, and that drug was found in her system during her autopsy, the report shows. She had no traces of alcohol or other drugs in her body.
"That just shows that they knew how sick she was, because they gave her this increased level of care," Hoss said about the shots. "That was not a standard procedure."
Multiple other inmates in Deal's cell said she was shaking, too weak to stand and having trouble breathing in the days and hours before she died, Hoss said. They asked the guards to help Deal, he added.
"It wasn't like she was secretly throwing up," Hoss said.
Initially, Deal's family publicly linked her death to a fight she got into with other inmates six days before she died, but later shifted away from that claim after the medical examiner found no signs of trauma on her body.
The final autopsy reiterates that Deal did not die from injuries she sustained in the fight and categorizes her death as natural.
Deal was in Silverdale for less than a week.
She turned herself in at the jail on a probation violation on Aug. 10, records show. She was originally charged with theft under $500.
Two days after she arrived, three inmates attacked Deal while she was inside her cell on Aug. 12 in a fight apparently over a cigarette, records show.
Surveillance footage showed that inmates kicked, struck and pushed Deal, according to jail records. One inmate pulled on Deal's arm and took something from her right hand during the fight, during which Deal also threw some punches.
One attacker later claimed they were trying to stop Deal from smoking a cigarette she'd smuggled into the cell because it could have resulted in discipline for the whole cell. Another inmate said the group wanted Deal to share her last cigarette but attacked her when she didn't have enough for them.
The three women who attacked Deal were taken out of the cell and put in different cells. None of the attackers reported injuries, but Deal did, records show. The injuries she identified were redacted from records obtained by the Times Free Press.
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