Loudon County Sheriff’s Office reported Feb. 11 that a female inmate attempted to hang herself in a holding cell Feb. 5.
Deputies discovered the inmate during a security check.
“Wednesday night (Feb. 5) she was found hanging in one of the visitation booths,” Tim Guider, Loudon County sheriff, said. “She had been placed there an hour before. She had claimed there were some narcotics in her housing unit and so they removed her from the unit and was doing a search where she was being housed. When they came back and checked on her, she was fine. We’ve got video of all this.
“Within about 30 more minutes checked on her again and she had used her undergarments ... kind of like a thermal stretch-type top, long-sleeve thermal top, and she hung it around the sprinkler pipe,” he added. “They immediately cut her down and was performing CPR and was able to get her back and just sad, sad situation.”
Priority Ambulance paramedics transported the woman to the University of Tennessee Medical Center and she had a pulse. She was placed on a ventilator.
The inmate’s family decided to remove her from life support and she was pronounced dead Feb. 9 at UT Medical Center.
Guider said the female was taken to a visitation booth for isolation because of the jail’s current overpopulation.
Loudon County is in the process of expanding its jail, which is certified for 91 inmates. Total inmate count Monday afternoon was 120.
The jail population got as high as 215 last year, Lt. Jake Keener, jail administrator, said in a prior interview.
“It was the only place,” Guider said. “We don’t really have any isolation space so that was the only place available at the time.”
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation was asked to assist in the investigation, Russell Johnson, 9th Judicial District attorney general, said.
“As with any case we are requested to investigate by a district attorney general, we provide our findings to that office as the investigation evolves,” Susan Niland, TBI senior public information officer, said in an email correspondence. “At the conclusion of our investigation, the DAG will review the findings from our investigative report.”
Contact was made with TBI and Johnson’s office the night of the incident, Guider said.
“Sheriff Guider reached out to me so that I could have the TBI (as a neutral investigating agency) come to oversee the investigation because the initial thought was that she was dead or would die,” Johnson said in an email correspondence. “Then she survived so it became an ‘assist’ by TBI. Then she died after all so it I predicated the case to TBI to be the lead. This is normal protocol for all in custody deaths.”
Guider said his office was “fully committed to investigating this tragic event” and help bring the inmate’s family closure.
The woman was arrested Jan. 28 for child endangerment, driving under the influence, identity theft, manufacture, sell or delivery of a Schedule II substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting arrest.