Methamphetamine OD blamed in man's death

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By AMY LINDBLOM

In the month before Christine Ortiz died at the Tuolumne County Jail, another inmate also died while in custody.

The California Department of Justice is investigating the deaths of both Ortiz and David Brian Scaruffi, 51, of Twain Harte.

Results of toxicology tests show Scaruffi died from a lethal dose of methamphetamine. Results from tests conducted at Central Valley Toxicology show that Scaruffi had .96 mg of methamphetamine per liter of blood when he died. Toxic levels of methamphetamine in a person's bloodstream range from .2 mg per liter to .6 mg per liter, the lab report said.

Scaruffi most likely swallowed the meth, said Tuolumne County Sheriff's Lt. John Steely. During an autopsy, a plastic bag containing a white powder was found in Scaruffi's stomach. The bag and its contents are still being tested, Steely said.

Scaruffi had been arrested Sept. 17 on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance after deputies searched a Jamestown house where he was visiting, and found several plastic bags of methamphetamine.

Sheriff's Sgt. Chris Harrison said that on the night Scaruffi was arrested, he had white powder in one nostril and told a Tuolumne County Narcotics investigator he had just used methamphetamine.

About 3 p.m., when Scaruffi arrived for booking, a nurse said he needed to be housed in the jail's medical unit. Steely and Harrison declined to say why, citing patient confidentiality.

Scaruffi was strip-searched, and deputies found no methamphetamine, Steely said.

Five hours later, Scaruffi was found dead in the cell.

"He was found with it. He admitted using it. He was arrested for it, and he died from it," Harrison said.

Contact Amy Lindblom at alindblom@uniondemocrat.com .

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The Union Democrat
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