Macomb jail inmate dies, 2nd ill from possible overdose

The Detroit News

Mount Clemens — A Macomb County Jail inmate died and another was hospitalized after snorting crushed medication, the sheriff's office said Thursday.

(caption information) Macomb County Jail complex in Mt. Clemens (Max Ortiz/The Detroit News) 2014

Nicholas DiFranco, 28, of St. Clair Shores died at a hospital, where he was taken with overdose symptoms late Wednesday afternoon, the office said in a news release. The second inmate, a 30-year-old man who was not identified, remained in treatment Thursday. 

The sheriff's office said jail staff were alerted by an inmate about 4:55 p.m. Wednesday that his cellmate, DiFranco, was having some kind of reaction.

Within 30 seconds, jail deputies and medical staff began treating DiFranco and administered two doses of Narcan to him after learning both inmates had ingested a substance.

The two inmates obtained the medication from another inmate, then crushed and snorted it, the sheriff's office said. Both went to sleep, until DiFranco's cellmate awoke to hear him having a reaction.

“The drug epidemic in Macomb County continues to be on the rise," Sheriff Anthony Wickersham said in a statement. "Unfortunately, this epidemic does not cease at the walls of the Macomb County Jail.

"On a daily basis, 60-65 percent of our inmate population receives some type of
medication, 30-60 inmates are on a detoxification protocol, and 35-50 percent of our
inmate population have a history of drug use," Wickersham said. "A large percentage of the inmates continue to seek out narcotics under any means necessary while incarcerated."

According to the sheriff's office, 21 percent of the jail's 1,042 inmates face drug charges.

The sheriff's office said investigators are working to identify the medication and how the inmates got it.

DiFranco had been in the jail since Nov. 7 on charges of embezzlement and possession of narcotic paraphernalia. The second inmate had been in the jail since Oct. 24 on charges of possession of analogues, unlawful driving away of an automobile, and retail fraud.