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Family demands answers after their 22 year old son died in a San Diego County jail cell

William Hayden Schuck was found unresponsive on his 6th day inside San Diego Central Jail

SAN DIEGO — Six days after getting booked into jail on charges of driving while under the influence of drugs, deputies inside San Diego Central Jail discovered 22 year old William Hayden Schuck dead inside of his cell.

Now, more than seven months after their son's death, Schuck's parents, Tim and Sabrina, are still searching for answers as to how and why their young son died.

"The absence of knowing what happened to Hayden has left a void in our lives that our imagination and worst nightmares are more than willing to try to fill,” Sabrina Schuck said in a statement to CBS 8.

Credit: Schuck Family

They hope those answers will be provided through a newly filed legal claim that the Schuck's filed against the County of San Diego. 

The September 15, 2022, legal claim, obtained by CBS 8 through a public records request, is the latest in a string of legal claims and lawsuits over deaths inside San Diego County jails. It comes as the county looks to reform conditions inside of its detention facilities, and weeks after Governor Newsom vetoed a state bill that would have ensured changes were made in county lockups after a state audit that found that the department had failed to implement the changes on its own. 

According to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department's website, Schuck is one of 19 people to die inside a San Diego County jail so far this year, one of more than 200 people to have died since 2006.

On March 10, 2022, San Diego Police Officers responded to a traffic collision near Sunset Boulevard and Interstate 8. At the scene, police arrested 22-year-old Schuck for driving while under the influence of drugs. Police also found an unregistered "ghost gun" inside Schuck's car, along with a large capacity magazine. 

Officers, according to the Sheriff's Department investigation, took Schuck to the hospital where he declined treatment and transported Schuck to Central Jail. 

On March 16, just six days after getting booked, guards found Schuck dead inside of his jail cell.

Now, more than seven months later, one of the family's attorneys, says the county has failed to provide details about what happened during Hayden Schuck's last six days inside Central Jail.

"Under the law, the County was responsible for Hayden's safety once they took him into their custody and care," says Lauren Williams, one of the lead attorneys on the case. 

Williams says the family was contacting the jail in the hours after their son's arrest to make sure he was not in danger.

"After learning of his serious car accident and arrest, his family tried frantically to confirm his well-being and ensure he was receiving necessary care in jail. The county jail refused them any meaningful information about their own family member. And they didn’t allow any family to speak to Hayden."

Williams says Hayden Schuck was so sick at his first court appearance, five days after his arrest, that he was unable to appear.

"He was plainly ill--so sick that he couldn't go forward with the hearing," said attorney Williams. "He was found dead the following morning and since the County has not been transparent about the circumstances of this death. We are seeking the truth about what happened, and justice for the Schuck family."

Meanwhile, Sabrina and Tim Schuck, Hayden's parents, are looking to help others like their son who turned to drugs amidst a life-long battle with ADHD and other mental health issues.

Just nine days after hearing that their son had died in his jail cell, the family started a GoFundMe fundraising drive and the William Hayden Schuck Memorial Fund to help middle-aged children cope with mental health illnesses as well as to improve mental health screening inside county jails.

The fundraising drive has raised more than $40,000, well above the family's goal.

“Our goal with starting the fund was to raise money to implement essential early intervention and prevention strategies for children with ADHD and related mental health challenges in schools—something Hayden would have benefited greatly from.” 

Added Sabrina Schuck, “We also want to see an increase in training and the implementation of evidence-based mental health interventions for detainees in the county jails.” 

Meanwhile, the family's attorney says they continue their quest for answers in finding out how Hayden Schuck died.

"The family wants transparency about the circumstances of Hayden's death, and they want to make sure that going to county jail isn't a death sentence for others like him," says family attorney Tim Scott.

For starters, says Scott, “it has been more than six months without so much as an autopsy report.”

San Diego County Sheriff's Department did not respond to CBS 8's request for comment in time for publication. 

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