BARTOW — Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives are investigating the death of an inmate housed in the medical infirmary at the South County Jail.
Hugh Stewart, 36, of Davenport was being treated for multiple serious medical issues. He had an extensive medical history that included treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (since 2008) and heart disease. He was housed in medical facilities at the Polk County jail since he was arrested Aug. 7, 2018, on numerous charges from PCSO and Haines City Police Department after he stole a car from Miracle Toyota in Haines City and tried unsuccessfully to elude capture from responding units.
Stewart became unresponsive in the jail medical infirmary, and life-saving measures were immediately started by detention deputies and medical staff Monday morning, July 9. Polk Fire Rescue was contacted, and arrived two minutes later. He was transported to AdventHealth Sebring. He was pronounced deceased at the hospital.
The Medical Examiner performed an autopsy on Stewart Monday afternoon to determine the cause and manner of death. An initial review by the Medical Examiner’s Office observed that the decedent died a natural death with no physical trauma.
The autopsy showed Stewart had fibrinous pericarditis of the heart and had abnormal heart tissue. The official cause and manner of death will be determined after toxicology and further organ tissue testing, including testing for cancerous tissues.
Stewart’s 17-year criminal history (beginning in 2002) includes 57 total criminal charges, including 20 felony charges, 21 misdemeanor charges, and 16 other charges.
His charges include: possession of weapon by convicted felon, carrying concealed weapon, fleeing to elude (2), grand theft motor vehicle (5), possession of stolen vehicle, dealing in stolen property, burglary of conveyance, battery-domestic violence, false ID given to LEO, obstruction (2), resisting (3), smuggle contraband into detention, failure to deliver leased property (3), uttering forged instrument, violation of probation(4), marijuana possession (2), petit theft (5), retail theft (4), larceny (2), obtain property false pretense (2), failure to appear (6), driving while license suspended/revoked(4), contempt of court, leave scene of crash, trespassing (2), and out of state fugitive (North Carolina).
Stewart has been incarcerated in Florida State Prison twice: from September 2009 to April 2013, and again from June 2016 to May 2018. Within three months of his release from prison, he stole a car and led police (Haines City P.D. and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office) on a high speed pursuit. He was taken into custody and charged with grand theft motor vehicle, obstruction of law enforcement, violation of probation, fleeing to elude law enforcement, grand theft, DWLSR-habitual, giving a false ID to law enforcement, and resisting arrest.
He was being held on no bond for the multiple violation of probation charges, as well as an out-of-county warrant from Seminole County.
This investigation is ongoing. It is standard PCSO policy for four separate, independent investigations to occur. The PCSO completes a death investigation and administrative (internal) investigation. The Polk County Medical Examiner conducts the autopsy to determine the manner and cause of death. All the investigative findings are forwarded to the State Attorney’s Office for their investigation and review.