LEWISBURG, WV (WVNS)– The mother of a man who died at Southern Regional Jail in May, reportedly by suicide, has joined a growing federal civil suit against the jail.
Cameron Dunbrack, 26, was admitted to the jail on May 4, 2022.
The State Medical Examiner, based on reports by jail staff and a physical examination, ruled Dunbrack died around 11:08 a.m. on May 7, 2022, and was declared dead at Beckley ARH Hospital shortly after noon.
His mother, Veronica Morgan of Lewisburg, said on Friday, September 30, 2022, that she had last seen Dunbrack, a married father of three small children, on May 3, the day before he went to Southern Regional. She said he was not suicidal and was excited about coaching his preschool son’s sports team.
West Virginia State Police arrested Dunbrack on charges of Fleeing while DUI, speeding, reckless driving and disorderly conduct, according to the Southern Regional Jail website and a May 4 criminal complaint filed in Greenbrier County Magistrate Court.
The complaint alleges Dunbrack was riding his ATV on U.S. Route 19 around 4 p.m. He allegedly threw an egg at a police cruiser when a trooper with the Greenbrier detachment of the West Virginia State Police attempted to stop him. Troopers arrested Dunbrack in Caldwell after Lewisburg Police Department had also responded to the incident.
The complaint alleges Dunbrack’s behavior appeared “manic,” that he was sweaty and shaky after the chase and that he told troopers he had taken Ecstasy.
A trooper at the Greenbrier detachment said on Tuesday, October 4, 2022, that Dunbrack did not require medical attention, based on the arrest report, and that he was taken to Southern Regional Jail after his arrest.
His mother, Veronica Morgan of Lewisburg, said she had a close relationship with her son and that he did not call her when he was arrested. She added she would have provided bail money. Morgan also said he did not contact his wife.
Around 4 p.m. on May 7, a day before Mother’s Day and Morgan’s birthday, she said, she was at an event with friends when she received heartbreaking news from Dunbrack’s brother.
“I received a phone call from my son,” Morgan reported. “He was crying and saying that Cameron was gone, and I just couldn’t believe it.”
Morgan was unable to drive herself home. Friends and her sister, Jacqueline Cassell, began to assist her.
State offices were closed, and Cassell and Morgan visited and called hospitals and the jail and police department. They said Morgan received few answers.
“They were rude, short,” Cassell said. “She just was asking them questions. And it was like they didn’t want to be bothered.”
A number of inmates have died at Southern Regional Jail since September 2021, and several guards and prisoners have reported civil rights violations at the jail, according to the growing federal civil suit, including improper mental health counseling.
A lawsuit filed in United States District Court by attorneys Steve New, Robert Dunlap, Timothy Lupardis and Zachary Whitten alleges suicidal inmates are forced to wear a certain gown or confining suit and are crowded into two cells, often waiting days for mental health services.
Morgan said her son was not suicidal and had not been diagnosed with a mental illness. She said the state has not yet answered her questions about her son’s last moments.
West Virginia Department of Homeland Security has not yet responded to requests from 59News for information on Dunbrack’s death.
In April, shortly before Dunbrack’s death, the Department of Homeland Security conducted an investigation of Southern Regional and found the jail to be operating under satisfactory conditions and policies.
Gov. Jim Justice on Friday, Sept. 30, addressed the lawsuit during a discussion of Amendment Two in Princeton. He acknowledged the outcome of the April investigation.
“They come back with this sterling report that everything’s okay,” noted Justice. “If you just let this play out, the truth will come out.”
Morgan said she has not received a satisfactory report from the state about her son’s death and mental condition while at the jail.
“I guess that answers a lot of the questions why all of these things are happening there,” she said. ” I guess everybody wants to know that.”
She said she has asked the jail to return Dunbrack’s personal property, including the jacket mentioned in the criminal complaint, but she has not yet received his belongings.
The Medical Examiner’s report states Dunbrack’s lab tests at the time of death showed he had taken methamphetamine and amphetamine, both stimulants. He was presumed positive for Narcan, a drug that reverses an overdose. The report also mentions his legs showed bruising, scabbing and traces of smeared blood.