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Cortez man in custody on a warrant dies at Southwest Memorial

Kelory Newman was found unresponsive at county jail

Kelory Newman, an inmate at the Montezuma County Detention Center, was found unresponsive July 18, and later died at Southwest Memorial Hospital.

Newman, 30, had been arrested the evening of July 17 at Veterans Park on a bench warrant during the investigation of a disturbance, said Cortez Police Chief Vern Knuckles. He was placed into custody without incident and was cooperative at the jail.

Newman’s blood alcohol test at the jail registered at 0.421, Knuckles said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a BAC level above 0.35 can be fatal.

A 0.08 BAC level is considered driving impaired in Colorado. Newman was not driving.

Based on jail policies for highly intoxicated incoming inmates, Newman was transported to Southwest Memorial Hospital on July 17 to be evaluated by a physician.

“He was medically cleared, and transported back to jail custody,” Knuckles said.

Sheriff Steve Nowlin said that because of Newman’s high BAC, jail policies require that he be checked on by jail staff members every half hour through the night, and no problems were observed.

The next morning, July 18, Newman was served breakfast at 7:40 a.m. and informed jail staff members that he had a headache, Nowlin said.

He was observed at 10:59 a.m. and appeared to be all right, Nowlin said. When lunch was brought to him at 11:43 a.m., Newman was found unresponsive.

Medics responded and transported him to the Southwest Memorial Hospital emergency room at 11:56 a.m., and he died 12:20 p.m., Nowlin said.

“Very high levels of alcohol in the body can shutdown critical areas of the brain that control breathing, heart rate and body temperature, resulting in death,” the CDC says on its website. “Alcohol poisoning deaths affect people of all ages, but are most common among middle-aged adults and men.”

An autopsy was performed, and the cause of death could not be determined, Nowlin said.

Historically, Colorado has ranked in the upper quarter of states for deaths by alcohol poisoning, along with Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico in a range of 11.9 deaths per million people to 46.5 deaths per million.