Crime - Sacto 911

Woman who died after arrest is identified by Sacramento coroner

It could take months for medical examiners to determine how a woman died after she became unresponsive in the back seat of a Sacramento County Sheriff’s patrol car earlier this month, coroner’s officials said Wednesday.

Sacramento County Coroner’s Office on Wednesday identified the woman as Veronica Gehrke, 35. Gehrke was taken into custody by sheriff’s deputies the afternoon of Aug. 14 in Rio Linda after a caller’s report that the woman was acting erratically.

Officials said deputies arrested Gehrke on suspicion of public intoxication, but that she soon became unresponsive in the back of the sheriff’s cruiser. She was later pronounced dead by fire personnel.

On Wednesday, coroner’s spokeswoman Kim Gin said the battery of toxicology and other tests “could take a couple months” to complete.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Lisa Bowman said department officials are waiting for coroner’s officials to complete their death investigation and said sheriff’s detectives “just like any in-custody death, will be conducting an investigation on the death as well. However, we do need to wait for that final report from the coroner’s office.”

The coroner’s probe includes toxicology reports, which can take up to several months, she said.

Sheriff’s officials said deputies were called by a resident about 2:40 p.m. Aug. 14 who saw Gehrke acting erratically near the 400 block of K Street in Rio Linda. Deputies soon found Gehrke and took her into custody on suspicion of public intoxication. Officials said the woman was medically cleared by fire personnel and arrested.

While en route to a nearby jail transport van, the deputy noticed that Gehrke had become unresponsive in the back seat of the patrol vehicle and immediately pulled over, sheriff’s officials said. The deputy began life-saving efforts, but she was pronounced dead at the scene by fire personnel.