A medical patient in transport from Fulton County temporarily escaped custody after a restroom break at a nearby gas station.
On Wednesday afternoon, two deputies from the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office were transporting a patient from Grady Memorial Hospital to a state medical facility when they stopped to allow him to use the restroom at the Pilot station at Exit 41, according to Major Mark Fenninger with the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff’s offices statewide are required by law to provide transport for mental health patients from community hospitals to state psychiatric facilities for further treatment and evaluation.
While inside, the patient struggled and escaped custody before running across Highway 29 toward the airport, Fenninger said.
A witness to the escape reportedly called the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office, believing the patient was local.
Deputies immediately deployed a K-9 unit and set up a perimeter in the area with the assistance of the Newnan Police Department and the Georgia State Patrol. The patient allegedly ran north, crossed the interstate and followed a creek bed all the way to the area of Turkey Creek Road.
Around 50 yards from the interstate, the patient was located near the woodline by Sgt. Jeff Bugg with the sheriff’s office and voluntarily surrendered, Fenninger said.
The patient was turned back over to the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office. The search lasted a little over an hour and a half, according to the sheriff’s office.
Although individuals in a medical transport are restrained during travel, the law dictates the patients are not to be treated as criminal detainees.
The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office Law Enforcement Division is reviewing protocols and a formal investigation will be conducted, if determined to be appropriate.
Clay Neely: email@example.com, @clayneely