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Lackawanna man dies one month after suicide try in lockup

A Lackawanna man who attempted suicide last month by hanging himself with a phone cord while in police lockup has died, family members said Monday.


Stephen Sinwell, 30, died Sept. 19 at Erie County Medical Center where he was taken after Lackawanna police officers found him unconscious and slouched over in his cell with a phone cord wrapped around his neck on Aug. 15.

Sinwell, who never regained consciousness, was on life support since his arrival at ECMC, family members said.

Services for Sinwell were conducted Thursday.

"The first two weeks we didn't leave his side," said Louis Sinwell, Sinwell's father who lives in Bethlehem, Pa.

Police initially approached Sinwell in a vehicle parked outside his apartment in Lackawanna, said James T. Kuna, Lackawanna director of public safety.

They were responding to a "check the welfare " call from Sinwell's former girlfriend, who was concerned about a series of text messages she received from Sinwell in which he threatened to harm himself. Sinwell, who had just turned 30, was depressed over the state of his life, family members said.

Officers charged Sinwell with fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance after a residue believed to be cocaine was discovered under his nostrils and in the vehicle, Kuna said at the time of the incident.

Shortly after his incarceration, Sinwell was found unconscious, police said.

The family has contacted attorney Herschel Gelber to represent their interests, confirmed Louis Sinwell, a former steelworker. Gelber could not be reached for comment.

Sinwell's family struggles to deal with the loss of their loved one.

"Though he didn't have children of his own, he loved his nieces and nephews," Louis Sinwell said. "Everyone remembers Uncle Steve. Steve had a heart of gold with the kids."

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