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Female inmate found dead in her room at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center

Laurel Andrews
Loren Holmes photo

A female inmate was found dead in her room at the Hiland Mountain Correctional Center in the early hours of Thursday, April 10, Alaska State Troopers reported Monday.

Amanda Kernak, 24, was found unresponsive in her room by correctional officers performing a routine security check. Lifesaving efforts were unsuccessful, troopers said, and she was later pronounced deceased. The Alaska Bureau of Investigations was notified at 1:35 a.m. Thursday.

Routine checks on inmates are made every 30 to 40 minutes, said Kaci Schroeder, special assistant to the commissioner of the Department of Corrections.

The Hiland Mountain Correctional Center, located in Eagle River, is a state facility for female prisoners. Kernak was a pre-trial inmate at the correctional center, Schroeder said, who had been charged with driving under the influence. Later in the day she died, the charge was dismissed, according to the Alaska court system website.

Troopers wrote that no foul play is suspected. 

Department of Corrections Deputy Director Sherrie Daigle said the department could not comment on the cause of death until next week. An autopsy has been completed and investigators are now awaiting toxicology reports, she said.  

Although the incident occurred on Thursday, the trooper dispatch wasn't posted until Monday afternoon. The release was supposed to go out Saturday, but didn’t due to a technical error, troopers spokesperson Megan Peters said. 

The Department of Corrections does not report inmate deaths on a routine basis, said Sherrie Daigle, deputy director of the department's Administrative Services. “It’s not something we do,” Daigle said. That duty lies with the troopers, she said. 

Kernak is the second inmate found dead by correctional officers in the last week at an Alaska facility, according to the Anchorage Daily News. Davon Mosley was found deceased on the afternoon of April 4. He had suffered from chronic mental illness. The cause of his death has not been released. An investigation by Alaska Department of Corrections and Alaska Bureau of Investigation is ongoing.

Correction: This article originally identified Kernak as "Kernack" in one reference. We regret the error.