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Rural Alaska

Man dies in Western Alaska village jail

An Akiachak man died in a local village jail Friday after a tribal police officer took him into custody for being intoxicated, the Alaska State Troopers said.

Robert Nick, 54, had been taken into protective custody by a local tribal police officer earlier that day “due to the level of his intoxication,” the dispatch said.

Guards at the jail later found Nick dead in the cell.

Troopers in Bethel were notified at 8:53 p.m. Friday of the death, the AST said in an online report Sunday.

The initial report did not say what Nick is believed to have died from, or how long he had been dead when he was found by tribal jail guards.

Troopers boated to Akiachak to investigate, and sent the man’s remains to the State Medical Examiners Office in Anchorage, the dispatch said.

Akiachak is a village of about 600 people on the Kuskokwim River, northeast of Bethel.

Nick was the third person to die in a community jail in Western Alaska in two weeks.

On April 28, a man and woman died in a fire at the Napakiak village jail. The fire is still being investigated.

The deaths in Napakiak focused attention on the safety village jails, a little regulated feature of life in almost every small Alaska community used for holding arrested people before transport and for detaining people too intoxicated to take care of themselves.