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Investigation underway into death of Central Coast jail inmate

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The death of a female jail inmate at Santa Barbara County's Northern Branch Jail is under investigation.

Woman found unresponsive in Santa Barbara County jail facility.

Authorities are investigating the death of a female jail inmate on the Central Coast.

On Friday night, a nurse distributing medication to inmates at Santa Barbara County’s Northern Branch Jail in Santa Maria noticed one of them was unresponsive in her cell. Efforts to revive Kristina Marie Chermak by jail staff, and paramedics were unsuccessful, and she was pronounced dead at the jail.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s officials say there was no signs the death was suspicious, but an autopsy to determine the cause is pending. Deputies had checked on Chermak about 20 minutes before she was found unresponsive, and say she appeared to be okay at the time.

The 35-year-old Santa Barbara woman was in jail on burglary, and possession of stolen property charges. A judge had ordered her to remain in custody pending an evaluation by state mental health officials over competency to stand trial.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.