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Santa Barbara County Jail inmate from Santa Maria dies in custody

Santa Barbara County Jail inmate from Santa Maria dies in custody

  • Updated

A Santa Barbara County Jail inmate who tested positive for COVID-19 in July, but recovered, was found dead inside his cell on Tuesday, according to a spokeswoman. 

Eduardo Velazquez, 38, of Santa Maria was pronounced dead shortly after 9:30 p.m. after he was found unresponsive in his cell and didn't respond to lifesaving measures by jail custody and Wellpath medical staff, according to sheriff's spokeswoman Raquel Zick, adding the death appears to be from natural causes. 

Velazquez was booked into jail on July 11 on a warrant and charged with several felonies, including kidnapping to commit rape, aggravated sexual assault of a minor, rape by force and continual sexual abuse of a child. He was in custody on $1.25 million bail. 

He was housed in the intake quarantine area upon booking and and rehoused in medical isolation after testing positive for the coronavirus on July 16, according to Zick. 

Velazquez was hospitalized from July 17 to July 29 after experiencing coronavirus-related complications and was released back to the jail, in medical isolation.

Custody staff regularly checked on Velazquez during medical rounds and last checked him at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, but he exhibited no significant health issues, Zick said. 

The Sheriff's Office is conducting an investigation to determine the official cause, manner and circumstance of death. 

A final determination is pending due to autopsy, toxicology and lab results, according to Zick. 

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