As the mother of a son with food allergies -- as a human being -- this story both breaks my heart and angers me to no end: A 22-year-old man in jail for a marijuana possession charge -- a 22-year-old man who turned himself in over the misdemeanor -- died less than 24 hours after being locked up from a severe allergic reaction to dairy. Tragic, but that's not even the worst part -- the WORST part is that Michael Saffioti, well aware of the grave nature of his allergies, asked prison guards repeatedly if the food he was about to eat was safe and was assured his breakfast was dairy-free; once he started to get sick, he begged for help and was ignored ... until it was too late.
The only silver lining here? The whole thing was caught on video, so guards can't deny their wrongdoing.
An autopsy report from the Snohomish County, Washington medical examiner confirms that Saffioti died from bronchial asthma triggered by the consumption of dairy; as a result, his mother, Rose Saffioti, has brought a $10 million wrongful death suit against the county. Of course, no amount of money will bring her son back. And Mrs. Saffioti's heartbreak is only compounded by the fact that she encouraged her son to turn himself in, telling him he would be "out the next day." Michael, however, had a "bad feeling" that prison staff would not take his condition "seriously" -- he was afraid that even though he brought his asthma and allergy medications with him, he would not be placed in the jail's medical unit.
He wasn't. He was placed in a regular cell block, and less than one day later, he was dead.
Now, this would be a senseless tragedy and miscarriage of justice no matter what type of prisoner it happened to, but the fact that Michael was so young and was only in jail for possession of marijuana, for the love of God, makes the whole thing so much worse.
My heart goes out to the Saffioti family; I can only hope that the attention brought to Michael's death will save others from the same fate.
So incredibly sad.
Do you think prison guards deserve to be punished for what happened to Michael Saffioti?
Image via KIRO7