Crime - Sacto 911

Metro Fire launches inquiry into woman’s patrol car death

The Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District is investigating the circumstances surrounding a woman’s death in sheriff’s custody last week after she was medically cleared by Metro Fire personnel.

Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department officials said Veronica Gerhke was medically cleared before she was arrested Aug. 14 near the 400 block of K Street in Rio Linda on suspicion of public intoxication. Gerhke, 35, was later discovered unresponsive in the back of a deputy’s patrol car and died despite a deputy’s attempts to resuscitate her, sheriff’s officials said.

Michelle Eidam, Metro Fire spokeswoman, confirmed by email Thursday that fire officials are investigating “facts and circumstances” related to the Aug. 14 death, but declined further comment.

“Because this is under investigation, we are not in a position to release any additional information at this point,” Eidam said.

Sacramento County Coroner’s officials said it could take months to determine how Gerhke died. Sheriff’s officials on Wednesday said they are waiting for county medical examiners to complete their death investigation to begin their own inquiry into the circumstances that led to Gerhke’s death.