Diabetic 9-year-old died in state custody while his dad was in jail on drug charge

An Arizona single father named Richard Blodgett is demanding to know what happened after his 9-year-old son Jakob died in state custody while the dad was in jail on a drug possession charge, according to the Associated Press.

“A medical examiner listed Jakob’s death in late December as natural with complications from diabetes, a condition he was diagnosed with as a toddler. Specifically, Type 1 diabetes, which means his body was unable to produce enough insulin to survive,” said the AP’s report.

“Blodgett said he suspects the Arizona Department of Child Safety failed in its duty to protect his son, either by not monitoring his blood sugar levels or not ensuring that Jakob had enough insulin to prevent a serious, life-threatening complication known as ketoacidosis.”

According to the report, Blodgett claims he only ever used the drugs that landed him in prison to self-medicate his pain.

“Jakob and his father had been living at a motel when Blodgett was arrested in December. Blodgett, who already had a drug case pending and has spent time in prison, said was operating a backhoe much of the day and pulled over at a gas station to take a nap,” said the report.

“Officers wrote that they suspected Blodgett nodded off as a result of drug use. Authorities ultimately found more than 4,000 fentanyl pills in Blodgett’s possession.”

Blodgett was jailed and charged with one count of drug possession, Navajo County Superior Court documents show. Blodgett told the AP he had been using fentanyl for pain management after he dropped 300 pounds with weight loss surgery. ‘I wasn’t getting high. I wasn’t abusing them. I was using them to be able to work and provide for my son.'”

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Arizona officials are not commenting on the death, but it is part of a pattern, per the report: “In the fiscal year that ended last June, about 26 children died while in the agency’s custody, including from overdoses, medical conditions, natural and still undetermined causes. In the previous fiscal year, that number was 14. The figures amount to a fatality rate of about 97 per 100,000 children during that period” — almost double the rate for children in the general population of Arizona.

This comes after years of controversy surrounding deaths among migrant children, who have died in U.S. custody and prompted Customs and Border Protection to change policies surrounding medical checks.