Two sisters returning to Kansas from a trip to Colorado were pulled over on Monday for speeding. After being stopped, the Kansas police officer found a small amount of marijuana in the car. As will surely happen to many people in the near future, the sisters purchased marijuana legally in Colorado but made the mistake of bringing it across state lines.
The officer arrested the sisters, named Brenda Sewell and Joy Biggs, and put them in jail. While in jail, Sewell was unable to take her medications. She had the pills in a daily pill container rather than in their original prescription bottles. County officials say they were unable to determine what each pill was, and, because of this, could not allow Sewell to take her medications. She’d been taking medicine for hepatitis C, fibromyalgia, and thyroid problems for over a decade.
On Wednesday, after being off her medications for two days, Sewell fell ill in her jail cell. She was reportedly foaming at the mouth before passing out. Biggs and another inmate alerted authorities of the emergency while trying to revive her.
According to Biggs, jail authorities responded slowly to the emergency. Sewell was eventually transported to the hospital where she was soon pronounced dead. Her distraught family now wants to know why authorities took so long to respond to an obvious health emergency in their jail.
In addition to questions surrounding the jail’s response time, Sewell’s family is at a loss for what could have caused her to fall so ill in the first place.
“She had some health problems but nothing that was life-threatening; it was under control,” the woman’s younger brother said.
The Sherman County, Kansas Sheriff’s Office told the Wichita Eagle they would not speak on Sewell’s death until the ongoing investigation wrapped up.
“At this time as is typical in cases like this the investigation was immediately turned over to an outside agency,” the office said. “No further comments will be made pending the results of autopsy and outside investigation.”
January 24, 2014