Abilene Inmate Dies After Suffering Heatstroke Working Outside
An inmate in an Abilene jail is dead after suffering heatstroke while working outside with canine handlers and their dogs. A preliminary autopsy has been released regarding an Abilene inmate who died while working outside in the Texas heat. Seth Donnelly was sentenced to 12 years in prison for intoxicated manslaughter and was serving his time at the French Robertson Unit in Abilene, Texas. Donnelly worked in the prison with canines and their handlers to train the dogs to catch escaped prisoners. In this job capacity, Donnelly would wear a 75-pound suit to protect him from the dogs.
On June 21st, Seth Donnelly was working in the early hours of the morning in a training exercise where he was wearing the heavy, protected suit and running, according to Texas Observer. Donnelly was found breathing but unresponsive around 4 a.m. and was taken to a nearby hospital. The preliminary autopsy showed that Donnelly died of suffered multi-organ failure following severe hyperthermia, KTXS reported. When he arrived at the hospital, his core body temperature was 106 degrees. A toxicology screening reportedly showed traces of methamphetamines but it is not known yet known if these played a role in his death. The cause of death is still unknown, and the final autopsy isn't expected until the end of the month or early August. While it's not known for certain whether it was drugs, heat, overwork or a combination, but many are criticizing the Texas prison system for having another heat-related death.
Since 1998, at least 23 people have died from extreme heat while in Texas prisons custody. In 2014, inmates from the Wallace Pack prison in Texas sued the Texas Department of Criminal Justice over the heat in the living quarters, which reportedly routinely was above 100 degrees. They won the case in 2018 and the temperature now must be below 88 degrees. Read the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's entire statement at the Abilene Reporter-News website.