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Inmate with reported COVID-19 symptoms dies at Jefferson County jail

Paul George Abeyta, 50, told deputies he was suffering from fever, cough and shortness of breath.
Credit: Jefferson County Sheriff's Office

GOLDEN, Colo — An inmate at the Jefferson County jail with reported COVID-19 symptoms died Friday after he was found unresponsive in his cell.

According to a release from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office (JCSO), deputies found Paul George Abeyta, 50, unresponsive during a routine check at 5:15 a.m. Friday. Lifesaving procedures began immediately and continued until just after 6 a.m., when Abeyta was pronounced deceased.

Abeyta was housed alone in a medical unit of the jail because of drug withdrawal protocol and reported COVID-19 symptoms, the release said.

He was arrested Monday by Lakewood police, according to JCSO. He indicated during the booking process that he had been a daily heroin user for the past five years. He also said he was suffering from symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath that had begun earlier that day, the release said.

Abeyta did not have a fever, according to the release, but he was isolated from other inmates because of his reported symptoms. He was routinely checked on by deputies in accordance with withdrawal protocol, JCSO said.

The release said Abeyta was facing more than 10 felony and misdemeanor charges, including a failure to appear for possession of a controlled substance. His bail was set at $100,000.

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The sheriff's office said this is an ongoing investigation and that the cause of Abeyta's death will be determined by the Jefferson County Coroner's Office.

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