Death at Northwest State Correctional Facility is the 10th fatality at a Vermont prison this year
A 35-year old man held at the state prison in St. Albans for just over a day died Sunday morning, the Department of Corrections said. It’s the tenth fatality this year among Vermont's incarcerated population.
Jeffrey Nichols, of Sheldon, was lodged at the prison on Saturday at 3:13 a.m. on a charge of second degree aggravated domestic assault committed in the presence of a child, according to state police. About 27 hours later, at 6:32 a.m. on Sunday, prison staff found Nichols unresponsive in a cell in the booking area of Northwest, according to a press release from Vermont State Police.
Prison staff began life-saving measures, including CPR and “multiple administrations” of the overdose reversing drug Narcan, DOC said in a press release on Monday.
Nichols was pronounced dead at 6:49 a.m. The incident is being investigated by state police, but VSP says preliminary information indicates the death isn’t suspicious. An autopsy, including toxicology testing, will be performed by the Chief Medical Examiner’s office.
Haley Sommer, communications director at DOC, declined to share more details about the incident, but said drugs could have been a factor.
“It’s challenging to know whether he was using substances in the community,” Sommer said in a phone interview on Monday. “Narcan was administered, so it’s not something that’s out of the question.”
There’s already been at least one overdose death at a Vermont prison this year. In July, Shawn Gardner died after taking a mix of fentanyl, xylazine and cocaine. The Chief Medical Examiner’s office ruled Gardner’s death an accident.
DOC will conduct its own internal administrative and medical reviews, and the Defender General’s Prisoners’ Right office will also conduct an investigation — a standard procedure when someone dies in prison.
There have now been 10 deaths at Vermont prisons this year, slightly higher than last year when the state recorded nine fatalities.
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