Family of man found unresponsive in jail cell speaks out for 1st time

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) The family of a man who died after being found unresponsive in a downtown Bakersfield jail cell broke its silence Friday in an exclusive interview with Eyewitness News.

Fred and Connie Ramirez said their son, 51-year-old Ruben Ornelas, a former drug counselor, fell into a heroin addiction that ultimately led to his arrest by Bakersfield Police on Monday and want to warn other families dealing with heroin of its addictive effects.

Ornelas died in the early morning hours of Wednesday, July 3, after a Kern County Sheriff's deputy found him unresponsive in his multiple-person cell at Kern County's Central Receiving Facility, according to a news release.

A cause of death has not been released, and detectives are investigating the incident, but there were no signs of trauma or foul play, according to the release.

Ornelas was awaiting processing after being arrested for possession of heroin for sale and maintaining a residence for narcotics sales.

"He used it a lot," said Fred Ramirez, talking about his son's heroin addiction. "I don't know about the sales part. Maybe to support his habit."

Ramirez said he and his wife asked Ornelas to stop using heroin for months.

"Don't use drugs," Connie Ramirez said she would tell her son. "They'll kill you. That's what we would tell him."

Ramirez said she would see her son would hide most of his drug use from the family, leaving with friends or driving to "wherever there was drugs."

She says as a mother, she wants to warn other parents who may be dealing with children suffering from a drug addiction.

"You have to keep telling them," Ramirez said. "Just keep telling your kids not to use drugs. They're bad for them. They'll kill them."

"Once they get hooked on that heroin, it's hard to quit," Fred Ramirez said. "They try it, but it just comes to bite them ... they just can't get rid of it."