Dorchester County teacher dies in jail after wreck; officials said he refused a hospital

  • Friday, October 25, 2013

Thurston Massey

A Dorchester County middle-school teacher bled to death from internal injuries in the Orangeburg County jail Monday after being arrested on a DUI charge, according to the Orangeburg County Coroner’s Office.

Thurston Massey, 34, of Holly Hill, was the fifth inmate to die in the jail in the last year. He taught seventh-grade science at Oakbrook Middle School, district spokeswoman Pat Raynor said.

This was Massey’s second year teaching at Oakbrook, Raynor said.

“He absolutely had no discipline issues at the school,” she said. “He had a stellar reputation there.”

Students were told about his death and counselors were made available for support, she said.

Massey wrecked his 2009 Toyota pickup about 6:30 a.m. Sunday on U.S. Highway 176 near Holly Hill, Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. Judd Jones said. Massey was traveling west and ran off the road and hit a culvert. He refused a breath test and was charged with DUI and taken to the Orangeburg County jail, Jones said.

Massey was found slumped over dead in his cell early Monday, according to an incident report from the sheriff’s office. He was being held in a single-occupancy cell in the medical evaluation section of the jail. He had visible injuries, according to the report, but had refused medical help.

The State Law Enforcement Division was called in to process the scene.

Massey died of hypovolemic shock due to a lacerated mesentery, Deputy Chief Coroner Sean Fogle said. The mesentery is tissue surrounding the intestines. Hypovolemic shock occurs when the heart stops due to blood loss.

In laymen’s terms, Massey bled to death from internal injuries from the wreck, Fogle said.

Massey was being watched every 30 minutes and had shown no signs of distress when a detention officer found him unresponsive around 3 a.m. Monday, Orangeburg County Administrator Harold Young said.

Massey refused an ambulance after the wreck and again when he was brought into the jail, Young said. A nurse evaluated him when he was brought to the jail, and his blood pressure and other vital signs were fine, he said. He never complained of his injuries, Young said.

“We have video to document that,” he said. “I’m 100 percent certain we followed protocol.”

Of the other inmates who died in the jail in the last year, two inmates killed themselves by asphyxiation, one died of a heart attack, and the other was not taking his medications, Young said. The jail was not at fault in any of them, Young said.

Christina Elmore contributed to this report. Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553 or follow him on twitter @dmunday.

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