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Woman dies in Lemhi County Jail

Authorities are investigating why a woman died while she was being held in the Lemhi County Jail in Salmon.

Investigators from Madison and Fremont counties have been assigned to investigate the death, which occurred Sunday.

Amy Jo Anderson, 41, formerly of Great Falls, Mont., and a nine-month resident of Salmon, was pronounced dead around 6:30 a.m. Sunday. An autopsy was conducted at Portneuf Medical Center on Monday. Toxicology reports are expected to take six to eight weeks to complete.

Lemhi County Sheriff Lynn Bowerman said Tuesday that Salmon police responded to a 911 call Saturday afternoon from a woman dispatchers said was not making sense.

At the home, her boyfriend said she had been acting strangely for four days and was uncontrollable. Officers determined the woman was so intoxicated she posed a threat to herself or others and took her into protective custody.

Bowerman said that according to policy, Anderson was taken to Steele Memorial hospital for medical examination. She was then released and put into a padded jail holding cell.

The cell is equipped with constant video and audio recording equipment.

The sheriff said it was clear the woman was on something more than alcohol and appeared to be under the influence of methamphetamine. He said the woman was personally observed by jail personnel every eight minutes through the night and was constantly moving in her cell.

At 4:30 a.m. a dispatcher noted Anderson’s lips were turning dark and Anderson was taken to the emergency room for another examination. It was determined the color of her lips was the result of hair dye she had recently used.

Anderson was again released to custody in the jail. Shortly after, dispatchers said she appeared to fall asleep or pass out and a female dispatcher immediately checked on her. CPR was initiated and a deputy used an automated external defibrillator device to try to revive her.

She was transported back to Steele Memorial. CPR continued for about an hour before she was pronounced dead.

Bowerman said he immediately contacted Clark County Sheriff Bart May to initiate an investigation by the Tri County Sheriff’s Association. Madison and Fremont County officers were assigned to interview everyone involved.

Bowerman said dealing with protective custody cases is one of the most difficult jobs of any jail and he’s anxious to discover what went wrong.

“We’re here to protect people and we didn’t protect her,” he said. “I want to know if we did anything wrong and if there’s something we can do better in the future.”

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