Corrections department says inmate died of natural causes

Michelle Theriault Boots

Amanda Kernak, a 24-year-old Kokhanok woman who was found dead in her cell at the Hiland Mountain Correctional Center in April, died of "natural causes secondary to complications of severe liver disease," the Alaska Department of Corrections said Monday.

A three-sentence summary of the state medical examiner's autopsy report was released Monday by the department, more than seven weeks after Kernak's death on April 10.

"Out of respect for the family's privacy and to protect medical confidentiality, the Department cannot release any further details," the statement from DOC deputy director Sherrie Daigle said.

Kernak's family members in the Southwest Alaska village of Kokhanok have said the 24-year-old, who was in jail on a drunk driving charge, was suffering from severe alcohol withdrawal and was taking medication for a heart problem related to drinking. A fellow inmate previously said that in the last days and hours of her life Kernak was shaking, vomiting and so ill that she couldn't get off the floor of her cell, but got no medical attention or help from guards.

Reach Michelle Theriault Boots at or 257-4344.