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SCSO: Inmate escapes in snoozing deputy’s vehicle

From staff reports • Apr 21, 2018 at 8:20 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — A deputy who fell asleep while guarding an inmate at a local hospital has been fired after the prisoner fled in the officer’s personal vehicle, according to the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office.

A news release from SCSO Capt. Andy Seabolt reports that shortly before 7 a.m. Saturday, the department was notified that Donovan Austin, an inmate who was being treated at Bristol Regional Medical Center, had left the hospital and fled in a vehicle that was in the parking lot. Officers quickly located the vehicle and a short pursuit ensued. Austin was quickly apprehended at the I-81 / Airport Parkway interchange.

An investigation reportedly revealed that Corrections Deputy Buck Owens had fallen asleep in the hospital, allowing Austin to leave the room and drive away in Owens’ vehicle.

Sheriff Wayne Anderson terminated Owens’ employment for falling asleep. 

The release notes that Austin was apprehended within one hour of leaving the BRMC.

The investigation is ongoing and no further information will be released at this time, the release stated.

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