Janitor, 72, Gets Trapped in Cell for Three Days After Door Closes While Cleaning

The janitor, who has diabetes, was trapped inside a Florida courthouse holding cell without food or insulin.

Jail Cell
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A 72-year-old janitor with diabetes got trapped inside a Florida courthouse holding cell for three nights without food or insulin.

The janitor, Libia Vargas De Dinas of Orlando, was accidentally locked inside an inmate holding cell at the Orange County Courthouse in Florida when the cell's door closed and locked behind her around 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 27, according to an incident report from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office obtained by TODAY.

Vargas De Dinas had no access to food or the insulin she takes for her medical condition. Because the holding cell is located on 23rd floor of the courthouse, an area Vargas De Dinas told NBC affiliate WESH-2 in Orlando is normally vacant over the weekend, she was not discovered until around 6:40 a.m. the following Monday morning.

Vargas De Dinas, who sustained a cut to her finger when she tried to open the cell's door, told the affiliate that she leaned on her faith during her days-long ordeal. 

“I prayed to God that he would take care of my health, body, mind, soul and spirit,” she said.

FILE - Panoramic view of the Orange County Florida Courthouse in Orlando
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FILE - Panoramic view of the Orange County Florida Courthouse in Orlando

According to the incident report, Vargas De Dinas, who is employed by Owens Realty Services, told deputies that she left her janitorial cleaning cart and her phone outside of the cell before she was locked inside. She knocked on the door and tried to pull it open but was unsuccessful.

Though she had no access to food, Vargas De Dinas was able to drink water from a small faucet affixed to the top of a toilet in the cell. The only furniture for her to sit or lie down on was a small wooden bench.

Paramedics arrived Monday morning to the courthouse, where they gave Vargas De Dinas food and water to normalize her blood sugar levels. She declined transportation to a hospital and was taken by deputies to her home, according to the report.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office told TODAY that deputies patrol the courthouse during normal business hours. A private company provides security services at the courthouse, the office said. 

TODAY has reached out to Owens Realty Services for comment.

The Orange County Government told WESH-2 in a statement that it would change its security practices because of the incident.

"Upon hearing of the plight of the janitorial employee, Orange County has mandated that the security company walk every space within the janitorial footprint," the statement said.

Orange County also told WESH-2 that the automatic door closer on the holding cell door has been removed to ensure no one else gets trapped inside in the future.

This article first appeared on TODAY.com. More from TODAY:

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