Investigation underway after in-custody death at Purgatory Correctional Facility

File photo: PxHere

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Utah, May 19, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — An investigation is underway after an in-custody death at Purgatory Correctional Facility.

The deceased individual is 67-year-old Russell Dwain McGonigle of St. George, said a news release from Washington County Sheriff’s Office. McGonigle was in custody on a federal hold at the time of his death.

The news release said that on Monday morning, deputies assigned to PCF encountered an unresponsive inmate in the booking area.

Medical personnel assigned to the facility responded to the incident and began to administer medical treatment to the patient. Despite attempts to resuscitate McGonigle, he was pronounced dead.

At the request of the sheriff, the Washington County Attorney’s Office Critical Incident Task Force was activated to investigate the incident.

“Prior to their death, the decedent was receiving medical care for numerous health conditions,” the news release said. “The decedent’s primary care physician informed investigators they would be willing to sign a death certificate, due to several pre-existing medical conditions.”

The body has been sent to the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner for autopsy due to the subject being in custody at the time of death. Part of the investigation will include a screening for the COVID-19 virus. The results will be shared with the Sheriff’s Office upon completion, the news release said.

“Due to ongoing concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the sheriff’s office feels it is important to clearly communicate that there is little evidence to support a correlation between the virus and his death investigation,” the news release added.

“The sheriff’s office and PCF already had strict health screening processes in place prior to this investigation. Although the in-custody person was being monitored for health conditions, they had only complained of one symptom which was consistent COVID-19.”

He had already been scheduled to see a physician on the day of his death, the news release said. Due to his pre-existing medical conditions, McGonigle was housed separately, limiting his contact with staff and other inmates.

“Although we continue to monitor the health and condition of all incarcerated persons, currently there are no individuals housed in PCF who have been diagnosed positive for COVID-19,” the news release said.


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