Coroner: Walla Walla jail inmate's death appears to have been natural

Officials are waiting for toxicology test results to make a final determination.


WALLA WALLA -- Tony Gillen died of apparently natural causes Monday morning in the Walla Walla County Jail, Walla Walla County Coroner Richard Greenwood said today.

Greenwood said officials are still waiting for the toxicology report to make a final determination on the cause of death.

Gillen, a 58-year-old Kennewick man, was arrested Sunday evening on investigation of driving under the influence on a tip from an undisclosed source, according to Officer Tim Bennett, spokesman for the Walla Walla Police Department.

"(Gillen) was behaving in a manner indicative of intoxication," Bennett said, adding that Gillen was "cooperative throughout," despite refusing to take sobriety tests.

Walla Walla County Undersheriff Edward Freyer said today Gillen was suffering from diarrhea, but didn't show signs of other medical problems.

"He asked for and did receive some clean clothing," Freyer said, adding that jail staff conducted hourly checks through the night as part of standard procedure.

The hourly report logs indicate Gillen was still alive around 3 a.m. Monday morning.

"After that, (staff) observations were indicative of someone in their bunk asleep," Freyer said.

Gillen was "unresponsive" during the pre-breakfast check, which triggered in-house medical procedures and an immediate 911 call for paramedics.

"It was a very quick response," Freyer said of both jail personnel and paramedic crews. "We did what we could to revive him."

Luke Hegdal can be reached at or 526-8326.


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