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Tuesday, July 7, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Medical examiner says woman died after taking fentanyl in Spokane County Jail

UPDATED: Tue., July 30, 2019

An employee of the Philadelphia Macaroni Company, the site of a recent coronavirus outbreak, was arrested twice on suspicion of driving under the influence in a one-week span. His cellmate at the Spokane County Jail and six police officers were quarantined as a result. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
An employee of the Philadelphia Macaroni Company, the site of a recent coronavirus outbreak, was arrested twice on suspicion of driving under the influence in a one-week span. His cellmate at the Spokane County Jail and six police officers were quarantined as a result. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

The Spokane County medical examiner’s office on Tuesday confirmed a 39-year-old woman died after ingesting opioids in the Spokane County Jail.

Sharona Carroll was the 13th person to die in the county’s custody since 2015, and at least the second inmate whose death was linked to contraband drugs.

Carroll died after her cellmate shouted for help in the early hours of June 11. Nurses, corrections officers and paramedics found her unresponsive and gave her a dose of naloxone – a drug sold under the brand name Narcan that reverses opioid overdoses.

The medical examiner’s office said Carroll died of “combined drug toxicity due to simultaneous use of fentanyl, acetyl fentanyl and morphine.” Fentanyl is a powerful opioid increasingly found in heroin and linked to a surge in overdose deaths.

Mike Sparber, director of Spokane County Detention Services, previously said a bag containing a black substance was found in Carroll’s cell and would be tested as part of a Spokane County Sheriff’s Office investigation. Sparber has said he hopes to purchase X-ray scanners for the jail’s booking area to detect contraband hidden in body cavities.

Carroll, who long grappled with addiction and other health problems, had been serving time for a vehicular assault conviction stemming from a 2015 car crash in Spokane Valley. Her mother, Jana Akins, said Tuesday she believes her daughter’s death was preventable.

“Do 90 people have to die in there before they finally do something? You don’t deserve to die just because you’re in jail,” Akins said.

“I just want something done so that nobody else has to feel what I’ve gone through as her mother,” she said. “It’s the worst pain imaginable.”

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