UPDATE: Jail inmate who jumped from hospital window identified

He was recovering from an apparent earlier attempt at taking his life

By John Branton and Paul Suarez

Published:

Updated: August 23, 2011, 10:49 PM

 

An inmate of the Clark County Jail — injured in an apparent suicide attempt there Saturday and taken to a hospital — died early Tuesday when he jumped out the seventh-floor window of his room at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, police say.

Suka K. Suka, 33, of Vancouver used a small table to break the window and jumped to his death, according to a bulletin from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

A sheriff’s custody officer who was guarding Suka in the hospital room tried unsuccessfully to stop him, the bulletin said. The bulletin didn’t reveal whether she struggled with Suka or exactly what happened.

“Those interviews have not been conducted yet,” said Sheriff Garry Lucas on Tuesday night.

She hasn’t yet been identified and was not reported injured.

Suka jumped from the tower’s seventh-floor critical care unit, where he was being treated for injuries suffered from a fall at the jail in an apparent first suicide attempt on Saturday.

He landed on the roof of an adjoining three-story building, said PeaceHealth spokesman Ken Cole. Cole said doctors and other employees rushed to his side and tried to keep him alive.

“The inmate was quickly attended to by staff but regretfully he did not survive,” Cole said.

“I believe the only other person in the room at the time was the sheriff’s (officer) that was assigned to protect him,” Cole said.

No hospital staff or patients were hurt during the incident.

Emergency dispatch logs show that the case surfaced at 5:26 a.m. Tuesday with “Code 0 Officer needs help.”

The Vancouver Fire Department, Vancouver Police Department and AMR Northwest ambulance service were called to the medical center to respond to an “extreme fall 30 feet.”

“It’s never happened in the 13 years I’ve worked for the facility,” Cole said. “No one I’ve interacted with today could remember something like this happening at this hospital.”

The sheriff’s bulletin said Suka had been arrested last week on suspicion of second-degree domestic-violence assault and fourth-degree domestic-violence assault. Vancouver police made the arrest on Aug. 16 and took Suka to the jail.

On Saturday, Suka is believed to have jumped from an upper railing to the jail floor in an apparent suicide attempt and was injured.

Suka regained consciousness for the first time early Tuesday in his room at the hospital and carried out his second apparent suicide attempt, which killed him.

Hospital spokesman Cole said the windows are made of thick glass that meet strict standards for being able to withstand an earthquake.

PeaceHealth will do its own investigation, called a “root-cause analysis,” to detail what happened, Cole said.

The event was “pretty tragic” for the hospital staff, Cole said. The hospital brought in extra support from the chaplain and spiritual care team, Cole said. “We’re encouraging everyone, if they have needs or concerns, to talk to their supervisors about it,” Cole said.

The sheriff’s Major Crimes Team and the Medical Examiner’s Office are investigating, and the death is also under administrative review.

The Columbian’s files indicate four inmates have committed suicide in the jail since 1998, three by hanging and one by prescription drug overdose.

John Branton: 360-735-4513 or john.branton@columbian.com.