Sheriff's Office: Inmate in SLO County Jail dies from apparent overdose


Second inmate believed to have overdosed was revived

SAN LUIS OBISPO — One inmate died from an apparent drug overdose and another reportedly overdosed and was revived in the San Luis Obispo County Jail on Friday, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office reported. Sheriff’s Office officials believe Ernest Leonard Ortiz, 56, of Grover Beach, died from due to a drug overdose, but won’t know for certain until an autopsy is completed.

At approximately 1:05 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 6, an inmate reported Ortiz was unresponsive in his bunk in a dorm housing unit of the County Jail.

Jail staff immediately responded and began life-saving measures including CPR and a Narcan injection and contacted both jail medical staff and outside medical assistance. 

Ortiz remained unresponsive and was later pronounced deceased, the Sheriff’s Office reported.

A short time later, another inmate who had been seen with Ortiz just prior, collapsed from an apparent drug overdose. He received an injection of Narcan and was subsequently revived. 

This incident is being investigated as a possible drug overdose.

The dorm housing unit of the County Jail has open bunks and houses 51 inmates. The inmate was observed by staff eating lunch and then returning to his bunk. In the dorm setting, inmates have access to their bunks throughout the day.

“Jails across the state are dealing with incidents of drug overdoses,” the Sheriff’s Office stated in a press release made available to media Friday night. “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 28 for charges of violating probation and was due to be released on July 18, 2020.

The District Attorney's Office is leading the investigation. 

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