Indiana County Coroner Jerry Overman Jr. Thursday afternoon issued a news release on the New Year’s Day death of an SCI Pine Grove inmate, clarifying some of the information contained in a previous news release by the state Department of Corrections.
Overman says the cause of death of 32-year-old Luis Antonio Santiago of Reading is still not determined. He says it is “way too early” in the investigation to rule on a manner of death and for the SCI Pine Grove release- which came through the Corrections Department – to characterize it as an apparent homicide is inaccurate and it should not have been reported.
Further, he says, the prison’s statement that, “…the preliminary cause of death is being listed by the Indiana County Coroner’s office as ‘trauma at the hands of another person’” is also inaccurate. In Overman’s words, “An official statement or cause of death was not stated to anyone as I do not have that information to give at this time. Again, as I stated regarding the manner of death, all possibilities of the cause of death must be evaluated so an accurate cause of death can be determined.”
Overman says Santiago’s cellmate discovered him unresponsive shortly after 10 o’clock on Tuesday night. After efforts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful, he was pronounced dead at the Indiana Regional Medical Center at 11:05 PM.
The coroner also expressed his deepest sympathies to Santiago’s family and said he was very sorry if all of the family had not been notified before reading or hearing of the death due to the premature release by the Corrections Department.
Overman says an autopsy was performed yesterday and the cause of death is pending testing and investigation, which could take weeks or months to complete.