Jail inmate: drank too much water?


By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

The Yolo County Sheriff/Coroner’s Office hasn’t finished its investigation into the May 18 death of a jail inmate. But the sheriff’s department has released a “cause of death” finding that appears somewhat unusual.

Todd Alexander Phillips, a 29-year old from West Sacramento, died of acute cerebral edema, reported sheriff’s spokesperson Mark Persons. This swelling of the brain was itself due to acute hyponatremia (low blood sodium) and to water intoxication, added Persons.

In other words, Phillips may have consumed an unusually high amount of water.
Persons said the coroner’s department may soon release its findings on the “manner of death” for Phillips, which may explain more about the circumstances behind the incident.

According to the sheriff’s department, Phillips had been in custody for “various felony and misdemeanor offenses” since April 12. At about 12:49 p.m. on May 18, a correctional officer found Phillips “agitated and upset.”

“Phillips was lying on the side of his bed having labored breathing,” said a statement released May 20 by Sheriff’s Lieutenant Dale Johnson. “He was placed in restraints for safety reasons. Medical staff inside the facility was notified and they immediately notified emergency personnel from outside the facility. Phillips was transported to the Woodland Memorial Hospital. Ultimately, efforts to revive Phillips failed, and he was pronounced dead at the hospital.”

UPDATE: On August 2, sheriff/coroner spokesman Mark Person provided an update:

  “The investigation is closed,” said Persons. “The manner of death fot Todd Alexander Phillips has been determined as ‘undetermined.’

  Persons said that the various possibilities — homicide, suicide, natural causes or accidental — had been ruled out, and the exact “manner of death” for Phillips was not clear. 


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