Nurse arrested in connection to inmate’s death in Henry County

Photo depicting jail cell bars
Photo depicting jail cell bars(MGN Online / Mitchell Haindfield / CC BY 2.0)
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 9:11 PM EDT
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HENRY Co., Va. (WDBJ) - A woman has been indicted for the death of an inmate at the Henry County Adult Detention Center.

The Henry County Sheriff’s Office updated the investigation of the death of Bradley Steven Hensley, 42, of Bassett. Hensley entered the Henry County Adult Detention Center August 2, 2022. Upon entering, he made the staff aware of his medical history. The Henry Country Sheriff’s Office says based on Hensley’s pre-existing conditions, he was placed under direct supervision and regularly monitored by the Wellpath medical services staff.

According to the sheriff’s office, four days later Hensley told deputies he was having difficulty breathing. Deputies say they summoned the Wellpath medical staff on duty. They say at approximately 7:33 a.m., deputies noticed Hensley lying in bed in what appeared to be medical duress. They say while they interacted with Hensley, he became unconscious and unresponsive. Deputies say they immediately began life-saving measures, including CPR, until medical staff arrived. The Henry County Sheriff’s Office says medical staff and deputies continued giving CPR and used an automated external defibrillator (AED) on Hensley.

The report says at 7:36 a.m., the Martinsville-Henry County Emergency 911 Center was contacted. An EMS unit with Henry County Public Safety responded to the call and arrived at 7:45 a.m., Hensley was taken to SOVAH Health Martinsville where he was pronounced dead.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for the Western District of Virginia performed an autopsy and opined the cause of death was “acute fentanyl toxicity with adrenal crisis due to congenital adrenal hyperplasia contributing.”

During the investigation, video evidence was reviewed showing the on-duty nurse employed by Wellpath medical services who was responsible for inmate medical care did not perform medical checks as required. The report says further investigation showed the same nurse had falsified Hensley’s medical records to reflect rounds and vital checks that were never performed. Although the cause of death was shown to be involving fentanyl, the report says the investigation revealed this lack of care provided contributed to Hensley’s death.

Monday, March 20, 2023, the evidence was presented to a Henry County Grad Jury which indicted Deborah Sue Damron, 56, for involuntary manslaughter. Wednesday, March 22, Damron was arrested by the Kentucky State Police in Pikeville, Kentucky. Damron is currently awaiting extradition.

The report says this case has been forwarded to the Virginia Board of Local and Regional Jails and is pending final review.