Family and friends of Clinton Harrington are looking for answers after he died while under the custody of the Victoria County Jail.
Harrington, 32, fell unconscious Oct. 18 in the jail infirmary and was later pronounced dead at DeTar Hospital Navarro.
While the cause of death has not been determined, a preliminary report from the Office of the Attorney General showed he died naturally. The AG makes reports on all deaths of people in custody.
Carol Bludau, Harrington’s mother who lives in Hallettsville, said she did not visit her son in the weeks leading up to his death, but his grandmother, Caroline Harrington, did.
Harrington was arrested Sept. 9 on drug-related charges.
He was receiving methadone detox treatment in the county jail infirmary, along with treatment for other medical complications, the AG records show.
“He mentioned to his grandmother at some point while he was there that the psychiatrists from Gulf Bend said he should not be in there detoxing, he should get medical assistance,” Bludau said. “I thought that maybe she or he was going to take care of that, but they didn’t call back until yesterday to check on him.”
Caroline Harrington declined to comment.
Victoria resident Brian Wilborn, 32, who was best friends with Harrington, said he did not go visit him in jail.
However, Wilborn heard from Harrington’s grandmother that he was not doing well.
“She went up there and saw him, and she said that he was not looking very good ... (his) color wasn’t good and (he was) just sweating real bad,” Wilborn said.
Wilborn said Caroline Harrington told him she asked the nurse in the jail infirmary if they were taking care of her grandson when she visited him. Caroline Harrington was told by the nurse that she was “not going to let him die,” Wilborn said.
Two days later, Harrington died, Wilborn said.
“I still don’t know how it happen, but nobody saw it coming," Wilborn said. “His whole family, if they knew that his life was in danger, they would have got him out and got him in a hospital.”
Wilborn said though the circumstances around his death are still unknown, he feels that measures could have been taken to prevent his death.
“From the information I have been given, it is not every day that a 32-year-old person dies in their sleep,” Wilborn said. “Whenever they arrested him and took him into custody, they took responsibility of him. It should have been prevented.”
Bludau said her son struggled with ongoing complications with scoliosis. Harrington had back surgery in 2003, and again in 2006 because the first surgery was unsuccessful. The doctor did not put the hardware in correctly the first time, she said.
Harrington’s back was completely stable after the second surgery, but Bludau said the effects of his ongoing issues with scoliosis and the first surgery remained. Bludau said he was on a lot of painkillers and had to see different health professionals regularly.
“By then he had been on the painkillers and stuff so much that he was pretty much addicted to them,” Bludau said.
Despite his medical complications, both Wilborn and Bludau said he remained active up until his arrest and loved fishing, hunting and gardening.
Wilborn said Harrington liked to fish for bass, catfish and anything else that would bite. Coleto Creek Park was among his favorite spots, but Wilborn said he would fish anywhere.
“If he saw a puddle in the Walmart parking lot, he’d throw a line in there,” Wilborn said.
Wilborn met Harrington when he was 8 years old and regularly spent time with him up until his arrest. Harrington could always surprise you with a laugh, he added.
“You never knew what he was going to say. He was real bubbly and cared more about everyone than himself. He was a real jokester and prankster,” Wilborn said. “I am really going to miss him.”
Bludau said Harrington’s entire family will miss him dearly.
“He was so funny. He was just such a great personality. He was always smiling, joking, laughing and singing. He would imitate people or characters off of the TV,” Bludau said. “He was a loving, wonderful son, and he loved his family very much.”
Victoria County Sheriff T. Michael O’Connor declined to comment because the death is under investigation.
The sheriff’s office requested the Texas Rangers conduct an independent investigation into the death of Harrington.
Ranger John Lingle began his investigation on the night of the incident, according to the sheriff’s office news release.
Oct. 19, Justice of the Peace John Miller ordered an autopsy be performed by the Travis County Medical Examiners Office, county records showed.
The results are still pending.