Vermont man dies at Greenfield jail

  • Authorities are investigating the death of a Vermont man at the Franklin County jail. Staff File Photo/ANDY CASTILLO

Staff Writer
Published: 10/16/2019 11:02:34 AM

GREENFIELD — The 35-year-old Vermont man found unresponsive on his bunk bed during a cell check at the Franklin County Jail and House of Correction around 4:45 p.m. Saturday appears to have died of a drug overdose, Sheriff Christopher Donelan said Wednesday.

Donelan said Ian Biercuk, of Jamaica, Vt., was taken to Baystate Franklin Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. He said the death is not suspicious.

According to Northwestern District Attorney’s Office spokesperson Mary Carey, an autopsy performed by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner revealed no trauma, injuries or other obvious causes of death. A preliminary toxicology screen was positive for narcotics, including fentanyl. Massachusetts State Police had arrested Biercuk on narcotics-related offenses earlier in the day.

The investigation into Biercuk’s death is being conducted by the State Police Detectives Unit attached to the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office.

Donelan commended his staff members for their quick response to finding Biercuk unresponsive.

“Immediately, their training kicked in,” he said, adding that there was a rapid response from the jail’s medical team, and an ambulance took the man to the hospital. Next of kin has been notified.

It was unclear how Biercuk got drugs into his cell.

Donelan said the nation’s opioid epidemic has resulted in more overdoses than ever before, though it is uncommon in police custody.

“This is a rare occurrence for us,” Donelan said, “and we’re very saddened by it.”

According to Carey, Biercuk was arrested by State Police at approximately 1:30 a.m. following a traffic stop in the northbound lane of Interstate 91. Biercuk was reportedly driving a vehicle with an expired registration, and his driver’s license was suspended. He also had a pending arrest warrant out of Greenfield District Court.

An inventory search of Biercuk’s vehicle yielded 21 used and unused wax baggies suspected to contain heroin and heroin residue, Carey said. A passenger in the vehicle said they were returning from Holyoke, where they had gone to purchase heroin.

Biercuk was unable to post his $5,100 bail and was taken to the Franklin County Jail and House of Correction to await his arraignment set for Tuesday.

Reach Domenic Poli at: or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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