Inmate dies Monday while in county jail
|Preliminary reports indicate heart condition

Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

March 20, 2004 -- A 33-year-old Chino, Calif., man died early Tuesday morning at Hopkins County Memorial Hospital, where he was rushed after he stopped breathing while incarcerated at Hopkins County jail Monday, Chief Sheriff's Deputy Rickey Morgan said Tuesday morning.

A preliminary autopsy indicated that the inmate, Craig William "Cowboy" Tolle, died of cardiomegaly, or enlarged heart, likely due to his weight.

The autopsy was requested to determine the cause of death, because Tolle did not indicate to jail officials that he had any medical problems or conditions at the time of his incarceration aside from sleep apnea.

"At about 11:55 [Monday] night administration was notified, that's the sheriff, myself and CID Investigator Andy Chester, that an inmate was in what appeared to be cardiac arrest in the jail," Morgan said.

Tolle, a truck driver, was arrested Monday afternoon by Deputy Tony Crouse at a convenience store in Cumby on a McLennan County warrant for bond forfeiture on misdemeanor theft charges. He was involved in a minor accident at the gas station involving the gas pumping station and his tractor-trailer truck. A records check showed him to have the outstanding McLennan County charge. He was first taken to Hopkins County Memorial Hospital, where he was checked for injuries and a his blood sample taken. After being released from the hospital, he was taken to the county jail, where he was booked in about 2 p.m.

The three other inmates who were being held in the detoxification cell along with Tolle due to overcrowding at the jail, notified jail officers of the man's labored breathing. The corrections officers also had noted the man appeared to be having distress breathing.

Jailers and the three inmates indicated that Tolle, when asked if he was having difficulties, would walk around and proclaim himself to be "OK," according to Morgan.

Despite that, the jailers were monitoring Tolle approximately every 15 to 20 minutes as a precaution, and were notified just before midnight Monday by the three other inmates that the truck driver had laid down and didn't appear to be breathing.

"The others brought it to the attention of jail staff, who when they went back there found he was hardly breathing at all," Morgan said. "Two jailers started CPR immediately. A third jailer called EMS. The jailers continued CPR until EMS arrived and they took over, continuing CPR to the hospital."

Hopkins County Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Ronny Glossup pronounced Tolle dead at the hospital at 12:45 a.m. Tuesday.

"The body is being transported to the M[edical] E[xaminer] in Dallas to see what caused his death, to see if it was a heart attack or something else," Morgan said Tuesday morning. "We don't know if it was a heart attack or something else. We didn't know of any medical problems. He never indicated any problems. We are going to have to wait on the preliminary results from Dallas to see what caused his death."

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