Coroner: Inmate died from hypothermia in Lake County jail

  • Video from the Lake County Sheriff's Office shows jail personnel at the cell door of Edward Robinson III, who was found unresponsive in his cell Sept. 19. Robinson died after suffering hypothermia, the county coroner said Thursday.

    Video from the Lake County Sheriff's Office shows jail personnel at the cell door of Edward Robinson III, who was found unresponsive in his cell Sept. 19. Robinson died after suffering hypothermia, the county coroner said Thursday. Courtesy of Lake County Sheriff

 
 
Updated 12/13/2018 5:42 PM

A mentally ill Park City man died of natural causes brought on by hypothermia after he urinated on himself and lay on a cold floor at the Lake County jail, officials said Thursday.

Lake County Coroner Howard Cooper said the core body temperature of 32-year-old Edward Robinson III had dropped to 84 degrees on Sept. 19, after correctional officers found him unresponsive on the floor of his cell in the jail's administrative segregation unit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Robinson, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia prior to his death, was not using a blanket.

"Also, research shows people who have schizophrenia can have issues with hypothermia," Cooper said.

Cooper released the findings during a coroner's inquest Thursday morning.

Robinson's death led to demotions for several key staff members at the jail, as well as administrative changes and the launch of an internal investigation.

Sheriff's Sgt. Chris Covelli said the investigation continues and new Sheriff John Idleburg, who took office Dec. 1, has been briefed on the situation.

"The new sheriff has major concerns over the lack of immediate attention Mr. Robinson received while in the jail," Covelli said. "Since taking office, Sheriff Idleburg has empowered the correctional staff to call paramedics should they believe an inmate is in any type of distress, even when the jail medical provider disagrees."

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Idleburg will review the findings of the internal investigation to determine the exact deficiencies that may have occurred.

"There will also be accountability and additional safeguards in place to prevent this type of tragedy from happening again," Covelli said. "Sheriff Idleburg expresses his deepest sympathies to the Robinson family."

Previous Sheriff Mark Curran said he demoted staff members because guards and other jail personnel did not move with enough urgency to administer care after finding Robinson unresponsive.

Video footage showed officers calling for a medical emergency at 11:07 a.m. Sept. 19 after they found Robinson on the floor of his cell. However, no one attempted lifesaving measures until a medical staff member arrived at 11:14 a.m.

After the medical staff member performed CPR and used an automated external defibrillator, paramedics rushed Robinson to Vista East Hospital in Waukegan, where he later died.

Robinson had been held at the jail on felony charges since July, after a judge deemed him mentally unfit to stand trial. He was in the maximum-security area because of disruptive behavior and threats to harm other inmates, authorities said.

In a previous statement, Robinson's family said he'd been diagnosed with a mental illness and was in need of treatment. The attorney for the family said the way Robinson's medical needs were ignored was "inhumane."

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