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Alcohol poisoning blamed for Orange County jail cell death

Margaret Dale Kersey was in a holding cell when jail staff found her unresponsive, the Orange County Sheriff's Office said.

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — A woman found dead in an Orange County jail cell in May died of acute alcohol poisoning, according to an autopsy report released Tuesday.

The state medical examiner said high concentrations of alcohol and antidepressants were found in the blood of Margaret Dale Kersey, who was arrested following a disturbance at her sister’s Chapel Hill home.

Kersey, 58, was intoxicated at the time and had been in a holding cell for approximately 24 minutes while the arresting officer obtained a magistrate's order, the Orange County Sheriff's Office said.

Jail staff found her unresponsive lying on a mat, and emergency workers reported her airway “completely obstructed” by vomit, the autopsy report stated.

The effects of the antidepressants and the blocked airway might have been contributing factors in her death, the medical examiner said.


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