Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

September 9, 2013

RSH patient escapes twice in one week

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

RUSK — A 27-year-old Rusk State Hospital psychiatric patient escaped and was re-apprehended twice last week – although he was in extremely different frames of mind both times.

No one was injured during either incident.

“The first time he escaped was Tuesday and he (the patient) wasn't combative at all,” explained Rusk Police Chief Jamie Campbell. “The second time, on Wednesday, he was found walking down a city street with a handsaw in one hand and a fire extinguisher in the other.”

The escaped patient's personal information – such as his name and medical condition – could not be released Friday, as it is protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Despite the aggressiveness the patient demonstrated during the second incident described by Chief Campbell, it was not specifically directed at the Rusk officer who retrieved him, reports show. The patient was escorted back to the hospital safe and sound, Campbell said.

Rambunctious Rusk hospital patients may occasionally give grief to their caretakers, but they also tend to be more manageable around law enforcement officers, said Cherokee County Sheriff's Capt. John Raffield said.

“They just put them in the car and drive them back to the hospital,” the captain said.

 Chief Campbell said the patient's first escape took place Tuesday night around 10:40 p.m. He managed to exit the hospital grounds and made his way to a Rusk City street – at which point both he and the street were sprayed by a skunk.

“That's how we got him the first time,” the chief said. “He wasn't really happy about the skunk, but neither was the officer who had to transport him back in his car.”

The only resistance the patient offered that particular incident was to briefly dart away from the officer when he first approached.

“Really, this was kind of a 'no big deal' incident,” the chief said.

“We have had these quite a bit. Once the officer ran up on him in that first incident, he got under control.”

The second indecent took place about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. This time, the patient walked away from the hospital during daylight hours.

When the escape was announced, authorities did not immediately realize it was the same patient who had escaped the day before.

“That's when it was reported he had the handsaw and was walking down the a street by the rusted hospital gate,” Chief Campbell said.

“Our officer caught up with him but by the time he did, the patient had already put down the saw and fire extinguisher and was being taken back to admissions.”

Officials from Rusk State Hospital could not be reached for comment on Friday.