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Bobby Lee Ward. Photo courtesy of Watauga County Sheriff's Office.

Originally published: 2013-10-16 11:43:08
Last modified: 2013-10-16 14:35:57

Inmate dies in Watauga County jail

A 41-year-old man died Monday morning while in custody at the Watauga Detention Center.


According to a report filed with the state, Bobby Lee Ward was found in distress or dead in a cell at 8 a.m. Monday after last being seen alive by jailers 15 minutes earlier.


The report listed his caused of death as "natural," as opposed to "suicide," and said the cause was unknown. Sheriff Len Hagaman said in an email Wednesday that jailers immediately administered CPR after finding Ward unresponsive.


Medics were called to the jail on Hodges Gap Road in response to an unconscious person at 8:08 a.m. Monday. Ward was pronounced dead at the hospital, Hagaman said.


Ward was committed to the jail on Oct. 11 due to a probation violation and was awaiting transfer to prison, according to reports and the sheriff. He was being held in a special cell with full-time camera surveillance because of a medical condition, Hagaman said.


The State Bureau of Investigation was alerted to Ward's death and has visited the jail, interviewed staff and reviewed logs. Hagaman said it appeared everything "was done in the proper manner."


"I commend our detention facility staff for their excellent response and compliance with all applicable protocols," Hagaman said in an email Wednesday. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Ward family at this difficult time."