Peanut butter kills Greenville inmate

updated 5:44 a.m. ET, Tues., April. 22, 2008

By Dee Morrison

STANTON, Mich. (WOOD) – A 30-year-old man, jailed on an assault charge, died after eating a peanut butter sandwich that triggered an allergic reaction.

Paul Thurston was checked into the jail about 2:30 a.m. Sunday. Jail staff filled out the usual intake form with questions about health issue, including allergies. Thurston gave them a long list of medications he was taking, but never mentioned his peanut allergy.

At lunch on Sunday, he apparently ate several bites of a peanut butter sandwich, then contacted guards about his allergy. An on-duty nurse and an ambulance were summoned. The ambulance arrived in eight minutes, but Thurston was already in cardiac arrest.

He died at Sheridan Hospital, about 30 minutes after he ate the sandwich.

“There was nothing to indicate he was allergic to peanuts or peanut butter,” Montcalm County Sheriff William Barnwell told 24 Hour News 8. “I’ve been here for over 30 years and this is the first incident I can recall where someone’s died due to an allergic reaction to food.”

Barnwell has requested an outside investigation into the incident. Barnwell said he has no indication that procedures weren’t followed, “but we’re still going to do it anyway.”

Thurston’s family told 24 Hour News 8 he was arrested after getting into a scuffle at a local bar. They question whether the sheriff’s department should rely on information from an inmate who is intoxicated.

Thurston’s brother also said this is not the first time this happened to Paul. While serving time in the Kent County Jail on prescription drug violations, he ate a peanut product and had a reaction so severe he was in a coma for four days.

But Barnwell said, “I cannot understand why he didn’t tell us about it, and I cannot understand why, when we did give him a peanut butter sandwich, why he didn’t notice it. We just don’t know. It’s frustrating to understand, and I’m sure his family’s thinking the same thing.”


1 Comment »

  1. sam Said:

    They probably didn’t let him keep his epipen.

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