Coroner says inmate died from cirrhosis

A longtime Whidbey Island resident fell sick at the Island County jail and died at the hospital Sunday, Jan. 26.

Gregory McBride, 56, was remanded to the jail in Coupeville from district court on a driving while license suspended case Jan. 22, according to Undersheriff Kelly Mauck.

McBride fell sick while in the jail.

Mauck said the jail staff was checking on him regularly because he had diarrhea, but then he was unresponsive on Sunday.

Jail staff called for an ambulance.

McBride was transported to Whidbey General Hospital and died the same day.

Island County Coroner Robert Bishop said McBride’s cause of death was cirrhosis of the liver.

“The two main causes of cirrhosis are alcohol abuse and viral infection,” he said. “They cause almost all fatal cirrhosis cases.”

North Whidbey resident Raymond Sullivan said he was surprised to hear about his friend’s death. He said he knew McBride for about 30 years. They used to “run together,” but their paths diverged about 20 years ago.

Still, they remained friends.

“He was really talented, really sweet, he could be very compassionate,” Sullivan said.

McBride graduated from Oak Harbor High School, he said, and owned a “ripping business” for some time. But McBride’s problems with substance abuse were no secret, Sullivan said.

McBride had a history of drug-related offenses.

“He wasn’t a bad person,” Sullivan said. “He was caught up in something and couldn’t get away from it.”

North Whidbey resident Becky Spraitzar said McBride and his longtime girlfriend were squatting on her property. She said she was saddened to hear of his passing and wonders what to do with the possessions he left behind.

Sullivan said he happened to see McBride just before he died. He said McBride was obviously ill and looked like a shadow of his former self.

“I gave him a hug and told him I loved him,” Sullivan said.


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