Onslow County sheriff says two HVAC units failed this weekend at jail

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Onslow County’s sheriff now says two air conditioning units at the county jail failed this weekend and that there was one heat-related injury.

In a news release, Sheriff Chris Thomas said each cell block has its own HVAC unit and that they normally keep one cell block empty in case of a failure, but inmate population prevented that when a unit went down Friday in a female cell block.

He said an inmate fell in her cell, striking her head Friday evening, in what was called heat-related. The sheriff said that inmate was treated and released from the hospital and returned to the jail.

While women in that cell block were moved to other locations on Saturday, Thomas said the temperature range at the time of the fall was between the state’s required range of 68 to 85 degrees.

The sheriff said on Sunday morning a second unit broke, this one in a male cell block. He said fans and other measures were taken to keep airflow moving in that cell block, and temperatures remained within the state’s guidelines.

The county is working to keep repair parts on site, but Thomas said supply chain issues have affected this practice.

WITN was reached out to by family members Saturday morning saying their relatives who are inmates there were suffering in extreme heat due to the problem.