FIRST ON 3: Woman dies in New Hanover Co. Jail


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office says an inmate died overnight in the New Hanover County Detention Center.

Judith Balloon, 55, died at New Hanover County jail after she told deputies she was having trouble breathing.

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Balloon was serving a 60-day sentence for drug charges from April. Although the jail is not allowed to release information on Balloon’s health before her death, it says she was being treated for a pre-existing condition.

Family members say they think something may have happened to Balloon’s medication. New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sergeant Jerry Brewer says that’s not the case.

“All of her medication would have been administered by the medical personnel per her doctor’s request,” said Brewer. “So all of their medication is documented, all of her medication she received, so that medical personnel could document that.”

Brewer says the department is saddened by the Balloons’ loss. He says Balloon probably received a faster response because she was in jail.

“We look at things hindsight and try to figure out how we can make it better,” said Brewer. “But being here at the facility, we had immediate response to her needs. We did everything that we could to try to rectify the situation.”

We had plans to talk to Balloon’s daughter this afternoon, but she had to cancel to attend to another family emergency.