The Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office has yet to conclude why a local man who was hospitalized while in custody of the Santa Cruz County jail died Wednesday at a Tucson hospital.
Cory Vindiola, 24, was in the custody of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office when on Jan. 31, he was sent to St. Mary’s Hospital in Tucson, where he stayed until his death on Feb. 12, according to the medical examiner’s preliminary autopsy report.
Vindiola was booked into the Tony Estrada Law Enforcement Center on Jan. 24 on charges of “contempt of court and failure to pay fine.”
Documents for his release were issued on Feb. 3, according to information provided by the jail.
At the time of his arrest, Vindiola, son of Maggie Vindiola, owner of the Kasa Mia Restaurant on Arroyo Boulevard in Nogales, was in pre-trial procedings in Santa Cruz County Superior Court, having pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault charges filed on Feb. 21, 2012.
Maggie Vindiola declined to comment for this story, as did the family’s lawyer, Saji Vettiyil. Cory Vindiola’s lawyer in the assault case, Thomas Fink, did not return a voicemail by press time.
The Sheriff’s Office could not provide any further information, citing confidentiality restrictions per the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, commonly known as HIPAA.
Apparently Vindiola was put on “medical watch” during his incarceration and, “At some point, I guess his condition got worse and at that point the medical staff there decided that he needed to be transferred to a hospital, they couldn’t do anything for him,” said Santa Cruz County Sheriff Antonio Estrada.
An employee of the medical examiner’s office retrieved Vindiola’s body from the hospital on Feb. 13 and an autopsy was conducted the same day, said Dr. Gregory Hess, the chief medical examiner for Pima County, who provided information from the report to the NI over the phone. Hess did not conduct the autopsy, he said.
The preliminary report indicates that Vindiola had a history of seizures and that he had a seizure while in custody. However, the report did not show the cause of the seizures. At some point while in custody, he was sent to Carondelet Holy Cross Hospital in Nogales, where he was evaluated and observed before being sent back to the county jail, Hess said.
The cause of death is still unknown, Hess said. The autopsy process will not be complete until results come back on various tissue examinations, he said, which should take several weeks.
A toxicology examination will not be conducted, Hess said, because the results would only show the medications that were administered while Vindiola was being treated in the hospital for nearly two weeks.