An inmate who died at the Jefferson County Jail last spring bled to death after his ulcer erupted, leading to three deputies being charged with criminally negligent homicide.
A state medical examiner who performed the autopsy confirmed the cause of death to OPB on Monday.
James Wippel, 59, was arrested on drug charges April 24, 2017. Two days later, Wippel saw a nurse at the jail and officials called an ambulance. He died later that day.
Dr. Larry Lewman, who performed Wippel’s autopsy, said it’s not common to see people dying from burst ulcers.
“It’s uncommon because (when) you have symptoms you get medical attention,” Lewman said.
Three Jefferson County sheriff deputies — Deputy Michael Durkan, Deputy Cory Skidgel and Cpl. Tony Hansen — have been indicted by a grand jury in connection with Wippel’s death, though there’s been no information released publicly about the circumstances surrounding the incident.
“All I remember is (Wippel) died of a perforated duodenal ulcer,” Lewman said. “He perforated an ulcer in his intestine and bled out.”
Lewman, who has since retired since examining Wippel, said he hasn’t heard anything about the case since he did the autopsy.
David Glenn, a criminal defense attorney in Madras who’s representing Hansen, said he hasn’t seen discovery in the case and declined to comment.
Jennifer Kimble, Skidgel’s attorney, reiterated in an email that her client will plead not guilty. She said corrections officers often deal with people having substance abuse and mental health issues.
Durkan’s attorney didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said they haven’t seen any information about Wippel’s cause of death and referred to past statements.
Wippel was arrested April 24 by Warm Springs Police on methamphetamine and heroin charges.
In past statements, the sheriff’s office said on April 26 Wippel “again began showing signs of distress” so staff called an ambulance.
“Paramedics arrived on the scene and administered CPR, but sadly their efforts to save Mr. Wippel him [sic] were not successful,” the department said in a release.
Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins called in the Central Oregon Major Incident Team to investigate. To avoid any conflicts of interest, the results were reviewed and presented to a grand jury by the Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office.
The Clackamas DA’s Office declined to comment on the case.
Durken, Skidgel and Hansen are on paid administrative leave pending the completion of the legal process and an internal investigation.