Ex-county inmate sues over jail fall

An inmate at Clallam Bay Corrections Center is suing Island County over a fall he blames on a missing shower mat in Island County jail in 2017.

Acting as his own attorney, Nicholas E. Karelsen filed the complaint against “Island County Corrections” in Island County Superior Court Jan. 14. He is asking for consequential, continuing, actual, discretionary and punitive damages.

Karelsen claims he fell in the jail shower awaiting trial and hit his head, suffering a concussion that caused lasting health effects, the lawsuit states.

Karelsen was sentenced to 11 years and 10 months in prison on Oct. 16, 2017, after pleading guilty to kidnapping in the first degree — with a firearm enhancement — and burglary in the first degree

On Aug. 2, 2017, Karelsen drove an SUV through the fence of a Camano Island home and nearly struck a woman who was sitting outside. Armed with a shotgun, he then forced his way into the home, bound the couple living there with duct tape and stole more than $10,000 in cash on Aug. 2, 2017, according to court documents.

He found out from the couple’s handyman that they don’t trust banks and kept large amounts of cash in their house, the documents indicate.

In the lawsuit, Karelsen claims that the accident happened as he was stepping out of the jail shower on the morning of Aug. 17, 2017. He wrote that he “tragically stepped, immediately slipped, and painfully fell on the hard floor.”

He was knocked out and remained unconscious for an hour, the complaint states, and didn’t come to until he was at the hospital. He couldn’t remember his name or what year it was for some time and suffered ringing in his ears, which persists to this day and has caused him misery, he wrote.

Karelsen claims he found out from a corrections deputy that his fall was due to a non-slip mat being absent.

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