Autopsy: Guatemalan Detainee Who Died In Arizona Died From Blood Clot

December 20, 2016
Jude Joffe-Block/KJZZ
Eloy Detention Center.

After she was captured by the U.S. Border Patrol in mid-November, Raquel Calderon de Hidalgo told hospital staff that she was running and then fell. Weeks later, she died when clotted blood traveled to her lungs. An autopsy shows the 36-year-old Guatemalan immigrant suffered a leg injury that ultimately formed a blood clot.

"She had a pulmonary embolism, so that means a blood clot that had lodged in the circulation of her lungs that had traveled to her lungs from the legs," said Dr. Gregory Hess, Pima County’s medical examiner, the agency that performed the autopsy. Calderon's death was ruled an accident.

Hess found that Calderon had been seen at a Tucson hospital for knee and ankle pain in November. She had told doctors here she’d fallen and tripped after running through the desert but did not specify whether she'd been chased. She also told doctors she had had diarrhea from drinking dirty water.

"So those would certainly be risk factors for potential development of a blood clot," Hess said.

After she was caught north of the border, Calderon was taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and held at the Eloy Detention Center, awaiting a return trip home.

In late November, Calderon suffered a seizure, then more seizures while being taken to the hospital in Casa Grande where she died.

She is the third person in ICE custody to die since Oct. 1, when the fiscal year started.  Last fiscal year, 10 people died in custody.