A detailed log kept by Santa Fe County jail guards of Carmela DeVargas’ time at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center shows jail administrators continued the use of mechanical restraints on her for several days against the recommendations of her doctor.

DeVargas was a patient at Christus St. Vincent for eight days in October before she was transferred to University of New Mexico Hospital, where she died Nov. 9 of an epidural abscess, antibiotic-resistant staph infection due to chronic substance abuse and swelling of the brain, according to a report by the state Office of the Medical Investigator.

According to the logs, which were provided to The New Mexican by DeVargas family attorney Richard Rosenstock, the 34-year-old woman from Servilleta was kept in mechanical restraints despite being considered paralyzed from the neck down. Family members said doctors told them she would never again walk.

“Restraints back on inmate,” wrote a guard on Oct. 21. “Was advised inmate will be woken up that restraints can go back on in case she decides to run.”

According to the jail’s policies, inmates in the hospital are to be restrained by leg irons, handcuffs and a belly chain.

Rosenstock, who said he plans to file a tort claim on behalf of the family, said the decision to keep DeVargas in mechanical restraints despite her inability to walk was a form of torture.

DeVargas was taken to the hospital Oct. 20, after weeks of telling guards and nurses she felt weak and had a constant high fever. In interviews with The New Mexican, women in the jail described instances of guards ignoring DeVargas’ pleas for help, telling her she was not sick and blaming her illness on drug use.

Her father, Antonio DeVargas of Servilleta, has repeatedly called his daughter’s death a negligent homicide.

Online Now
Celebrate the Class of 2020

Submit online graduate profiles to share with family and friends free. Upgrade to be included in the 2020 keepsake graduation edition printing June 28.

Santa Fe County attorney Robin Gurule wrote in an email Friday she could not authenticate the documents provided by Rosenstock because the county “does not directly or indirectly reveal such protected medical information.”

The log provided by Rosenstock contains notes every five to 25 minutes by the guards stationed in DeVargas’ hospital room 24 hours a day, detailing what was happening inside her room.

Just one day after she arrived at the hospital, her doctors advised against the use of mechanical restraints in favor of soft ones.

“Medical director in the ICU wanted to speak with [Lt. Rojas or Capt. Rios] about the mechanical restraints be removed,” one of the notes states. “Inmate in a coma, sedative coma, and it could make her sick or make her skin infected.”

Notes show guards removed the restraints for two hours before reapplying them. From Oct. 22 to Oct. 23, guards did not make a single note about the use of restraints, and it is not mentioned again until Oct. 24, when a guard wrote they received permission to remove them while DeVargas received an MRI.

The restraints were then removed permanently on the morning of Oct. 27, one day before DeVargas was transferred to Albuquerque.

County spokeswoman Carmelina Hart wrote in an email Friday that she could not answer questions regarding the decision by jail administrators to keep DeVargas in mechanical restraints, citing health privacy laws.

Show what you're thinking about this story

You must be logged in to react.
Click any reaction to login.

Recommended for you

(4) comments

Kathleen Dexter

The individual who are responsible for this need to be prosecuted.

Khal Spencer

Someone explain to me two things.

1. Why can't the doctors immediately overrule jail staff in matters of life and health?

2. Why are the jail staff responsible for this not being charged with criminally negligent homicide?

Nicoletta Munroe

The article delineates the difference between seeing a person as a patient versus in custody. The criminal justice system sees 'a thing' to control rather than a human being in jeopardy. The idea of a guards in a hospital reveals the difference between trained medical staff and those whom are trained to incarcerate. One group is educated to be sensitive and save a life, the other group is trained to restrain, to deharmonize a person to their living self. The criminal justice system should be dismantled and reorganized to help people live not die. Those who gravitate to that area are brutes who wish to control the population, and usually lack education or basic social skills themselves unfortunately. To be in the arena of punishment trains people to be inhuman.

Clara County

Yes. Sad. Who will do this ? Reorganize or revamp. ? Not holding breath.

Disgusted and dissatisfied with even the charged up use of this word , "system " what system? Where? There is no system there is a power and control play. Sadly. We know it is going to continue but wish we could turn the table for only one day. One minute or one second for all the ego -tripped, power hungry yahoos and Google's who believe their covert and indefensible act is an excuse for a job to , "put food on their tables for their families. " well turn the tables. FOR ONE DAY WATCH YOUR LOVED ONE STRUGGLE OR BATTLE WITHIN DAY TO DAY BS AND SEE THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BARS AND BE TREATED LIKE AN ANIMAL BECAUSE OF WHERE THEY ARE OR WHERE THEY HAVE BEEN. Such a crock pot of cracker stew. I heard an ex guard the other day tell of a story within his time as a guard in Texas. He bragged and boasted of a time with an inmate who was poked and prodded from BEHIND at key points of control so that on camera it would show this inmate was , well for lack of a brain,cell or two, in his own words, "resistant." I sadly quote here from this mf mouth, " well we had to show him who was in control that day so he wouldnt wonder." Lol. Well how about u show some mercy or bring humanity to ur table for dinner because these ego vampires are only thirsty to dominate and exert power and control over the weak. They build more prisons and they fill them to capacity and bloat them w a holes who excuse themselves as, "doing there jobs. " well they are not qualified to determine "your only sick because you were on drugs. " lol. What the barn door? wake up people. its sick. It's a pandemic disposable flush down the toilet kinda of crappie gumbo that clogged ur so called system a very long time ago when it was created at the meetings discussing death by numbers for population control and domination to afford the elite what they are thirsty for so yes hey man nice shot. Go ahead take me out w a kill shot because this kind of filth kills me.I read a blog once of a woman who was coming down off of drugs on purpose because she didn't want them anymore. She was a strong lady who apparently now runs her own company w over 300 employees who are silently fighting this war. She asked once and again I quote. " why are you sedating me with three syringes ?"" Is this necessary " " She then pleaded with the guards in the mental health facility to please stop because she isn't, "fighting" them. She pleaded because for over a week prior she had put her body spirit and mind through , "pure misery "as she put it. She was so weak and thirsty . She begged for hours for one of the transport officers to please give her a drink of water. Two officer switches later and not one sip was given. Until finally she was almost to the facility 3 to 4 hrs later when it was only an hr away and she had no bathroom break and almost , " peed her self." She pleaded, " I am a human just like you. Please stop at a store and buy me a water because I'm not threat to you because I really just need water and this is not humane. We have rights as humans she said and the officer was a woman as well and began to tear up and stopped against what her training had taught her and remember that she was a mother and she had lov2d onea too. One day they could or what If they were in this very position what would I do or like so many bumper stickers say what would jesus do or the elders or higher counsel or what ever one may choose to believe in and what not. Bleep would they do. ? She opened her third eye and stopped being a control artist and turned fellow human as a tear silently rolled down her human cheek and she gave her a drink but only one quick one because, " if they find out I will be in trouble. " wow. She lived but the animals were told that her heart raced at a high rate due to the week long drug binge she had previously been on prior to deciding to get clean she told then three syringes full of meds that would mummify her for the next 48 hrs when this could cause her to die. This was not safe. She knew this because her mother who did not ever use any illegal substance substances her life but was tormented by their system for over 25 years was treated like a lab rat for the pharmaceutical company benefited and the vampires put her to sleep w the same cocktail. her final one that ended her life. I hope that one day these animals see a day of reckoning that outshines their fallacies and big belt buckles

Welcome to the discussion.

Thank you for joining the conversation on Santafenewmexican.com. Please familiarize yourself with the community guidelines. Avoid personal attacks: Lively, vigorous conversation is welcomed and encouraged, insults, name-calling and other personal attacks are not. No commercial peddling: Promotions of commercial goods and services are inappropriate to the purposes of this forum and can be removed. Respect copyrights: Post citations to sources appropriate to support your arguments, but refrain from posting entire copyrighted pieces. Be yourself: Accounts suspected of using fake identities can be removed from the forum.