Fayette County Prison inmate dies days after hanging
By Renatta Signorini
Published: Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, 1:15 p.m.
A man found hanging in an apparent suicide attempt in the Fayette County jail has died, authorities said on Sunday.
Derek Andrew Thomas, 25, of Uniontown was pronounced dead early Thursday at UPMC Presbyterian hospital in Oakland, according to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office.
An autopsy performed on Sunday by an associate medical examiner ruled Thomas's death a suicide by asphyxiation from hanging.
Warden Brian Miller said the jail is conducting an internal investigation, and Uniontown police have been asked to investigate as well.
Although Thomas was pronounced dead early Thursday, Miller said he remained hospitalized with family by his side upon Miller's departure from the hospital on Friday evening.
An obituary indicates that Thomas died Saturday morning at the hospital.
An official at the medical examiner's office declined to say when Thomas's body was released to them or the reason for the prolonged hospital stay. Miller was unaware that Thomas had died or was pronounced dead on Thursday when a reporter called him Sunday afternoon.
Family members could not be reached.
A corrections officer who was making rounds in the jail at 6 p.m. Dec. 22 discovered Thomas hanging from a bedsheet. Miller has said Thomas had a pulse when he was cut down, but it was unknown how long Thomas was hanging before being discovered.
He was taken to Uniontown Hospital and transferred to Presbyterian.
Thomas was incarcerated at the jail the day before on burglary, theft and receiving stolen property charges from an incident in South Union, according to court records. His $50,000 cash bail was altered on Dec. 23 at the warden's request to $50,000 unsecured because of the suicide attempt and Thomas's subsequent hospitalization, according to online court records.
The bail reduction allowed a jail guard to withdraw from Thomas's room and his family to be at his bedside.
Miller said previously that when Thomas arrived at the jail, he gave no indication during the intake process that he might be suicidal.
Court records indicate Thomas had three prior criminal cases since 2008 for offenses that include driving under the influence and marijuana and drug possession. In 2010, he was sentenced to up to two years in prison in a case involving drug and weapons charges.
A viewing is scheduled for 3 to 7 p.m. Monday at Kezmarsky Funeral Home in Uniontown. Funeral services will begin at 7 p.m.
Staff writer Liz Zemba contributed. Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reachedat 724-837-5374 email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Where’s joy in Penguins country?
- Bylsma critical of Penguins’ effort, Fleury’s late-game gaffe
- Penguins insider: Martin steady force for sporadic Penguins in playoffs
- Woman shot, killed in bar parking lot in New Brighton
- Blue Jackets appreciate Dubinsky’s playoff mettle
- McKeesport edges Woodland Hills to keep pace in section
- High school roundup: Quaker Valley baseball downs Brentwood
- Wolf admits part of ‘Fresh Start’ campaign plan was plagiarized
- Pirates lose to Reds again, dip near the division basement
- Woman believed trapped in burning Heidelberg home
- Trib Cup: Shady Side Academy baseball on winning run