Anne Arundel County officials are still trying to determine whether guards responded properly when a county jail inmate suffered a fatal heart attack Sunday morning.
Another inmate, a trained paramedic, said he told a guard that Herman G. Huffman was suffering a heart attack and needed emergency treatment, but no action was taken until Huffman suffered a seizure two hours later.
Jail Superintendent Richard J. Baker said guards continue to maintain that Huffman complained only of a hernia, twice refused to be taken to the hosital, and said he felt better after resting in the air-conditioned staff lounge. So far, he said, there is "really no verification" for the differing stories, but that all involved will be interviewed a second time.
Huffman, 48, a self-employed Pasadena, Md., landscaper convicted of driving while intoxicated, was serving a six-month sentence in a work-release program at the time of his death.
Inmate Cornell Sidney Rubenstien said Huffman had complained to him last Tuesday of chest pains and numbness in his arm. Rubenstien said Huffman went to see his doctor the next day, and the doctor told him he was not sure what the problem was but gave him nitroglycerin tablets. He said Huffman told him before 6 a.m. Sunday he had "small chest pains" but took a nitroglycerin tablet and went back to his bunk.
Another inmate, Nick Christofel, who jail officials described as a trained paramedic, said yesterday he found Huffman in the latrine at 6 a.m. clutching his chest. Huffman said he felt "real sick," Christofel said, had severe chest pains radiating into his left arm, neck and abdomen, and was feeling nauseated
Christofel said he helped Huffman down the hall to see guard Cecil Kilgore in the staff lounge. Huffman told Kilgore he was feeling sick and had chest pains, Christofel said. Christofel said he told Kilgore he believed Huffman was suffering a heart attack and needed emergency treatment, then was told to leave by the guard.
Christofel said he next saw Huffman an hour or so later, sitting on some steps clutching his chest. He asked an inmate to bring him his nitroglycerin tablets and took one, he said, but it didn't seem to help. A few minutes later, he said, Huffman went into violent convulsions and an ambulance was called.
Huffman died at Anne Arundel General Hospital about an hour later. Dr. James Wheeler, who treated Huffman at the hospital and who checked him after his death, said the inmate did have a hernia, but it was inactive and would have caused no pain. Christofel said Huffman had never mentioned to him that he suffered a hernia problem.
But Baker said two guards, Kilgore and night supervisor Sgt. E.L. Dorsey both insisted that Huffman complained of a hernia problem, not of heart pains. "He led them to believe that this was a problem that had happened before," Baker said.
Baker said there are also discrepancies in the times reported by Christofel and the officers. Christofel, who is serving a sentence in the work-release program for writing bad checks, said he brought Huffman to guards at 6 a.m., while the guards said this did not happen until about 6:50 a.m.
Baker said he hoped to finish conducting interviews today, and then will interview people again in an effort to sort out the discrepancies.