Juvenile escapee crosses mountain on foot only to be caught on other side

ROGERSVILLE — A shackled 16-year-old drug defendant who fled from the Department of Children’s Services office in Rogersville Wednesday afternoon crossed a mountain before a deputy found him sitting in a field rubbing his sore feet and ankles.

Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Greg Larkin was driving an unmarked vehicle when he spotted the boy sitting across the road from the Hawkins County Highway Department garage on Flora Ferry Road just south of Rogersville.

Rogersville Police Department Chief Doug Nelson said Larkin pulled his unmarked vehicle into a driveway adjacent to the field where the boy was sitting and asked the boy what was going on.

“(The boy) said, ‘One of my buddies put these shackles on me as a joke, and now I can’t get out of them’,” Nelson told the Times-News Thursday. “Lt. Larkin said he jumped out of his vehicle and told the guy, ‘That’s a bunch of B.S. and you know it’. He said the guy was worn out and his feet were hurting him so bad he didn’t want to run any more. He just gave up.”

The boy had been arrested in a drug sting Tuesday in Elizabethton, and he was also wanted in Hawkins County Juvenile Court on drug offenses.

Nelson said the boy was in the custody of DCS, and although he was wearing ankles shackles, he wasn’t wearing handcuffs.

DCS officials had bought him something from McDonald’s for lunch and were about to transfer him from the DCS office on Rt. 66 in Rogersville to a Knoxville facility when the boy bolted around 3:25 p.m.

“When they took him out to put him in the van he threw down his McDonald’s bag and took off running with shackles on,” Nelson said. “They told me they could have caught him, but they aren’t allowed to touch him and take a chance on hurting him. He ran up in the woods behind the big shopping center where Food City used to be.”

Nelson added, “All he had on (his feet) was flip-flops and socks, which he ran out of those pretty quick.”

Six officers from Rogersville and the HCSO searched for the boy for two hours and 19 minutes.

Nelson admitted that he was impressed that the boy was able to climb up one side of a steep mountain and back down the other side through rough terrain in shackles and socks.

“He got almost a mile on foot,” Nelson said. “Of course his legs and feet were all skinned and tore up from going through the briars, and from the shackles rubbing his ankles raw.”

Nelson added, “If you look up the hill behind (the old) Food City, it’s straight up. You could see his footprints going up the bank, and it’s straight up. When you’re 16 you don’t have to stop and rest every little bit like we do. He just kept going. He went over that mountain and all the way down the back side, and actually passed the highway department and was over on the left of it across the road.”

Nelson said there will be additional charges against the boy, but new charges will be filed by DCS.             

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