Detainee’s death and doctor’s findings lead to inquiry

A family has been looking for answers since the Department of Corrections notified them Thursday that their loved one, Traven Cruz, 35, was hanging on to his life at Guam Memorial Hospital. He died later that night, under suspicious circumstances.

Mr. Cruz was in the custody of the DOC. He was rushed to the hospital Wednesday, after complaining of stomach pains. At the time of the incident, he was able to walk, and was able to get onto the ambulance gurney on his own, according to DOC sources. By the time he got to GMH, his condition had deteriorated; and that evening, Mr. Cruz coded.

Doctors resuscitated the detainee twice before stabilizing him. His family had no idea what was happening. According to DOC sources, no one was answering the phone number Mr. Cruz left upon his detention. Officials finally were able to reach his sister, and by Thursday morning the family was at GMH.

Prior to Mr. Cruz’s death, his attending physician spoke with his older brother and sister to explain that he would die, and the circumstances surrounding his condition. The conversation with Dr. Thomas Murray was recorded.

In the recording, Dr. Murray explained that Mr. Cruz had been vomiting and blood, prior to a surgery, where doctors discovered that no blood had been flowing to his intestines.

Traven Cruz

“His guts were dead,” Dr. Murray said, “and you cannot live without them.”

“What would cause blood flow to stop circulating or going through his intestines,” Mr. Cruz’s older brother asked Dr. Murray. The doctor said there are two common ways this can happen under this rare condition:

“If you get trauma to your belly — if you get hit — that can actually cause the artery wall to split apart and block the blood flow,” Dr. Murray explained to Mr. Cruz’s brother while machines were keeping him alive in the background. “The other is toxins. Some toxins you get exposed to can do that to you as well.”

Dr. Murray explained that the doctors had run a blood panel and the toxicology report came back negative for illicit drugs and common toxins.

“My brother and I, as well as the doctor requested an autopsy to determine whether the cause of this was physical trauma,” Mr. Cruz’s sister, Thaddea Cruz-Blas said. “We just want to know what happened and whether someone caused this to happen.”

DOC spokesman Major Antone Aguon could not confirm Mr. Cruz’s identity to Kandit due to privacy laws, but was able to confirm that a detainee was rushed to GMH Wednesday and had died Thursday. Upon furnishing Major Aguon with the recording, he said DOC would be looking into the matter further.


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