Police to investigate Bedford jail death

BEDFORD – A Maryland man died Sunday at the Bedford County jail, Warden David Kessling confirmed Tuesday.

Kessling said Mark Cook, 43, of Ellerslie, Md., was in jail awaiting a Common Pleas Court hearing when he died of an apparent health problem. Cook was in the recreation yard with fellow inmates when he complained of difficulty breathing and asked for medical help, he said.

A guard escorted Cook to the jail’s medical area and called for a nurse, who was in another wing at the time. As Cook’s breathing became more labored and he became more anxious, the guard issued an urgent call for help, Kessling said.

Cook stood up, then collapsed, he said. The Bedford County coroner pronounced him dead at the jail.

State police have been called to investigate Cook’s death, Kessling said, and officials are awaiting the coroner’s report. Kessling declined to describe Cook’s health in detail, but indicated he may have suffered from prior medical problems.

“We want to know what happened, as well,” Kessling said.

According to online court documents, Cook was arrested April 18 in Hyndman and charged with criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness. Police said Cook entered the kitchen of a Hyndman home, then stayed for several minutes as the homeowner demanded he leave.

Court documents indicated Cook was set for a hearing Tuesday, two days after his death.

Kessling said prisoners occasionally die in jail – Bedford’s jail tallies roughly one death each year, he estimated. He praised jail staff for its response.

Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.