23-year-old inmate found dead in jail cell - WKRN News 2

23-year-old inmate found dead in jail cell

Posted: Updated: Feb 6, 2012 10:15 PM

A 23-year-old inmate at the Montgomery County jail was found dead during roll call Monday morning.

Eric "Stefan" Baggett was found unresponsive in his cell and taken to Gateway Medical Center by ambulance.

He was pronounced dead at 5:49 a.m.

Baggett's cause of death was not immediately known, however his mother Stephanie Portwood told Nashville's News 2 her son was in good health before he checked into jail two weeks ago.

According to Portwood, it was shortly after he began serving time for a parole violation that Baggett developed a cough and shortness of breath.

"He thought that he had pneumonia. [He had] difficulty breathing [and] tightness of his chest. He had put in a couple of sick calls for a nurse and just was not doing well," she told Nashville's News 2.

Portwood said that a jail nurse examined Baggett, gave him an allergy pill and told him to stay hydrated.

Despite the exam and medication, Baggett's family said they believe he was suffering from more than just allergies and that his cell mate requested to be moved due to his illness.

"His cell mate that was in there with him, Stefan had gotten so sick with the coughing and everything that the cell mate had gotten paranoid and didn't want to be in the same cell with him anymore," Portwood said.

Portwood said she has not yet been allowed to identify her son's body, but she said she wants to know why her seemingly healthy son died in county custody.  

Nashville's News 2 spoke with a representative from the jail who said they were unable to comment on Baggett's death until the investigation and autopsy are complete, but did say the county takes inmates' health care seriously and that the jail also has medical staff working 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Baggett's body will be sent to the state medical examiner's office for an autopsy.

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