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Prisoner’s death ruled ‘natural’

By BRIAN BOHNERT
STAFF WRITER
The cause of death of a Fostoria man found unresponsive last year in his Seneca County holding cell was ruled “natural,” the official autopsy results state.
According to published reports, Douglas Askam, 33, died of dehydration due to opiate withdrawal and heroin abuse. The autopsy was conducted at the Lucas County Coroner’s Office on behalf of Seneca County.
Askam, who was brought into Seneca County Jail June 28 on charges of possession of cocaine, possession of heroin, falsification and two probation violations, was pronounced dead at 7 a.m. July 2 at Tiffin Mercy Hospital.
According to the published reports, the autopsy report showed that Askam had suffered from dehydration and opiate withdrawal for days while the heroin abuse lasted for months.
In a previous interview with the Review Times, Seneca County Sheriff William Eckelberry said Askam was found unresponsive in the jail’s booking area at about 6 a.m. Tiffin EMS arrived on the scene at approximately 6:14 a.m. and transported the prisoner to the hospital at 6:33 a.m.
Eckelberry had previously said officials at the jail had last checked on Askam approximately one hour and a half before he was found unresponsive in his cell. He was placed on medical observation during his short incarceration.
Cassie Askam, Doug Askam’s sister-in-law, declined to speak to the Review Times Monday, citing advice from her family’s lawyer. However, in an update posted to her personal Facebook page Saturday, she disputed the “natural causes” claim, stating her loved one’s death was “slow and painful” and that it “could have been prevented.”
“I know, in the end, the truth will come out and they will pay for what they did,” Cassie Askam said in the statement. “But, as a family, we will stay strong. We love you Doug and miss you.”
In an early July 2013 interview with the Review Times, Cassie Askam said she, her husband, Matt Askam, and his sister Erin Askam were pointing their fingers at the Seneca County Jail for not giving Askam the medical care they claim could have saved his life.
“Everyone knows that if you’re detoxing, you need fluids because you’re constantly sick and throwing up. (Doug) knew that all he needed was to get an IV with fluids,” she said in the previous interview. “If he would have had an IV … he would still be here … They neglected to get him the treatment he needed. He suffered in there.”
Doug Askam was arrested by Fostoria police June 27 on two charges of drug possession and one charge of falsification following a traffic stop at the intersection of South Wood and West Tiffin streets.
On the day of his death, Askam was scheduled to appear for arraignment on the charges at 9 a.m. in Fostoria Municipal Court.
Multiple messages left for Eckelberry Monday were not returned by press time. In addition, officials from the Seneca County Coroner’s Office did not return messages left by the Review Times.

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