A 39-year-old man incarcerated at Rikers Island died on Sunday, according to the city Department of Correction, pushing the rate of deaths for those in city custody to historic highs.

Edgardo Mejias, was held since October on $15,000 bail. He is the 19th incarcerated person to die in city jails and hospitals this year, which has the highest rate of death in at least a dozen years. Gothamist is tracking those deaths here.

The department did not detail the circumstances behind how Mejias died. But his attorney, Dean Vigliano, said Mejias struggled with asthma and complained that he did not get proper care at the Anna M. Kross Center where he was jailed. Last month, Vigliano wrote to the correction department about those concerns, and on Friday he was told that Mejias would be put on a treatment plan.

“When I saw him in November he was really bent out of shape over it, he couldn’t breathe,” Vigliano said. He said he believes that Mejias is survived by a teenage son.

“He always had a smile when he saw me…I’m sorry for what happened,” Vigliano said.

Correction Commissioner Louis Molina said in a statement: “Mr. Mejias’ passing fills our hearts with sadness, and we extend our heartfelt sympathies to all who held him dear as we recognize how hard it is to lose a loved one during the holidays. As with all deaths in custody, we will work with our sister agencies to ensure that this matter is thoroughly and completely investigated.”