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Fellow inmates of woman who died in Columbia County Jail say she appeared ill, requested medical attention

PMG PHOTO - The Columbia County Sheriff's Office contracts with Wellpath for medical services in the county jail.Three women in the same jail pod as Linda Brown, who died last month in her cell, say that Brown had pleaded for medical attention in the days before her death.

Columbia County sheriff's deputies found Brown unresponsive in her cell on the morning of Oct. 23.

An investigation into Brown's death is still ongoing, led by Oregon State Police.

Brown, a 66-year-old woman from Vernonia, was arrested on the morning of Oct. 12 after a police officer encountered her exiting her car to enter a liquor store while visibly intoxicated.

Fellow inmates said that Brown was clearly sick, displaying signs of alcohol withdrawal, and should have received medical attention.

Kourtney Scott and Shanika Rice, who were in the same jail pod as Brown, both separately described Brown yelling to ask for medical attention.

Brown asked for "meds," "nurse," and "9-1-1," Scott and Rice said.

Brown said "9-1-1" and Deputy Mason Dawson "just shook his head 'no,'" Scott said.

Scott and Rice said that the deputies in the jail were generally patient and kind toward Brown, who struggled to communicate, because her hearing aid had broken.

"She wasn't comprehending, or she'd get flustered because she couldn't hear properly," Scott said.

One deputy had started writing things down on a notepad so that Brown could read them, Scott said.

Brown had asked several times to use the phone to call her sister.

Rice said Brown slept most of the time and was vomiting frequently during her first few days in the jail, a common symptom of alcohol withdrawal.

"I don't know personally, she never said anything to me, but I assumed she was detoxing from alcohol," Rice said. "I'm an ex-drug addict, but it looked like detoxing from alcohol."

Another fellow inmate in the pod, Laura Parr-McKendry, told a private investigator working with Parr-McKendry's attorney that Brown had not been eating and had been continuously defecating on herself, which "should have been a clue" that she was not well.

Rice said Brown's uneaten meal trays were stacked in her cell until a deputy had Rice dump them out.

To see a nurse or doctor in the jail, inmates typically have to fill out internal jail mail called kites. Rice said medical workers in the jail often take a long time to see inmates who submit medical kites.

Wellpath, formerly known as Correct Care Solutions, is the medical provider in the Columbia County Jail. Wellpath and Correct Care Solutions are named in multiple lawsuits in Columbia County and more than a thousand nationwide. The lawsuits have been filed by current or former inmates or their families, alleging inadequate medical care that left incarcerated individuals with inaccurate diagnoses or waiting for care while their conditions worsened.

Rice said Brown's body remained in the pod for hours. Inmates were moved to a different part of the jail while jail staff investigated.

"A neutral, outside agency is conducting the investigation into the death of Linda Brown. Once the investigation has been completed, I will share more details. Until then, I will not be able to release any information on this case," Columbia County Sheriff Brian Pixley said.

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