Authorities in Butte County are investigating the death of a 53-year-old Oroville man who was found unresponsive in a sobering cell at the county jail Thursday evening, shortly after he was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication.
Efforts to revive Rick Vermace were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead about 7 p.m., according to a Butte County Sheriff’s Office news release.
A joint investigation of the circumstances of Vermace’s death is being conducted by the Sheriff’s Office and the Butte County District Attorney’s Office.
Sheriff’s officials said a preliminary investigation revealed that officers with the Oroville Police Department arrested Vermace about 5:20 p.m., after he was reported acting strange near a business on Myers Street in Oroville and frightening customers. Booked into jail at 5:31 p.m., he was evaluated by jail medical staff and determined to be under the influence of a controlled substance, but not in need of additional medical care, according to the news release.
Sheriff’s officials said Vermace was placed in a jail sobering cell, alone, and was frequently checked by jail staff members. At 6:29 p.m., a staff member discovered Vermace lying down on the floor, unresponsive and not breathing. Life saving efforts were initiated by jail staff members and continued by paramedic and Butte County Fire personnel until 7:02 p.m., when Vermace was pronounced dead.
Sheriff’s officials said there was no indication that force was used during Vermace’s arrest or brief incarceration, and no visible signs of trauma were found. An autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death.