SLO County inmate dies of drug overdose

September 7, 2019

A 56-year-old San Luis Obispo County Jail inmate died of a suspected drug overdose on Friday, while another inmate required medical treatment for an opioid overdose, according to the sheriff’s department.

After eating his lunch, guards watched Ernest Leonard Ortiz of Grover Beach return to his 51 inmate cell. Shortly afterwards, another inmate asked guards for help, Ortiz was unconscious.

Officers and medical staff attempted to revive Ortiz through CPR and narcan (an opioid blocker that can reverse an overdose), but were unsuccessful.

A short time later, another inmate who had been seen with Ortiz earlier, collapsed from what appeared to be a drug overdose. Jail staff injected the man with Narcan, and he survived.

Deputies booked Ortiz into jail in March for violating his probation. He was scheduled to be released on July 18, 2020. The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office is conducting an investigation into his death.

Jails across the state are dealing with incidents of drug overdoses, which could possibly be related to synthetic opioids. Synthetic opioids can be manufactured illegally in clandestine labs. The potency is often stronger than other opioids and can be unreliable.

Last week, 13 inmates and five custody deputies required medical treatment for exposure to opioids at the Santa Barbara County Jail. In that case, everyone survived.

Francesca Bolognini

The situation appears to be totally out of control.


We should make a new law to prevent this.


We have some other pills for it.