Galen Avery, an original member of the hard-charging Montecito party crew of the early 1980s known as the “Cito Rats,” died last week at Cottage Hospital after suffering an undisclosed “medical event” while in custody at the county jail. A confirmed alcoholic, Avery also worked the past 15 years at the bait shop by the city’s waterfront where he was both well-known and well-liked. Avery was homeless because of his drinking, and had multiple run-ins with law enforcement over public inebriation. It remains uncertain what happened to Avery while in county jail; one account suggests he may have had a seizure, fell from his bunk, and split his skull.
According to Kelly Hoover, spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office, Avery was booked into jail by Santa Barbara police officers on June 20 for an outstanding arrest warrant and assigned to dorm style housing in the main jail. Two days later, shortly after midnight, he suffered what Hoover described as a “medical event.” Twenty-five minutes later, he was transferred to an observation cell, where Hoover said he was checked twice every 30 minutes by jail staff and medical personnel. Upon the recommendation of medical personnel, Avery was transferred to Cottage Hospital eight hours later. On July 5, he died.