Police attribute inmate death to natural causes

Published 10:17 pm Sunday, April 28, 2024

By Lanell Downs Smith

An inmate in the Crenshaw County Detention Facility died Monday of what police say appears to be natural causes.

Ronald Grow, 54, died Monday morning. Jail staff discovered him unresponsive in his cell and despite the immediate efforts of the jail nurse, Kim Wiggins, and emergency responders, he was pronounced dead at the scene around noon.

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Crenshaw County Sheriff Terry Mears said Grow had been suffering underlying health conditions for which Wiggins and Grow’s local physician had been treating him.

Mears said his staff, jail administrator Angela Hebert and assistant administrator Sondra McMeans, had taken every measure to accommodate Grow’s health concerns and other inmates had helped looked after Grow as well.

“I want to commend my jail staff, my nurse Kim Wiggins and jail administrators Angela Herbert and Sondra McMeans, for accommodating him and taking care of him,” Mears said. “We hate that Grow died in jail, but we did everything we could. We believe his death was due to natural causes.”

Sheriff’s Lieutenant Chris Stewart explained that Grow’s inmate status had complicated caring for his health concerns.

“Mr. Grow fell into a gap that exists,” Stewart said. “The Sheriff was trying to help get him on Medicaid and into a nursing home. But, because he was incarcerated, that limited what we could do for him other than to provide him the best medical care that jails can provide.”

“Even his primary care physician was trying to help us get some answers but Grow was denied everything. Medicaid would not start until he was in the nursing home, and the nursing home wouldn’t take him until Medicaid started. He fell into the gap of ‘what can we do?’”

The Sheriff’s department announced Grow’s death Wednesday, once his family had been located and notified. Mears asked the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s (ALEAs) State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) to conduct an independent investigation but does not suspect foul play to be a factor in Grow’s death.

Grow’s body was transported to the Alabama Department of Forensic Science’s laboratory for a comprehensive autopsy to determine cause of death. Autopsy results and other findings will be shared with District Attorney Charlotte Tesmer’s office.

No further information is available as the investigation is ongoing.