Meth poisoning sickens 10 more Darke County Jail staff; shuts down jail until Monday

ajc.com

UPDATE @ 12:50 p.m. ( April 19)

A total of 28 prisoners were removed from the Darke County jail and taken to neighboring counties as a result of a meth poisoning.  17 were sent to Miami County and 11 were sent to Mercer County. A case is being presented to the grand jury currently to bring charges against the suspect. The Darke County jail will be closed until at least Monday.

EARLIER REPORT: 

The Darke County Jail is shut down after 10 more officers were sent to the hospital Wednesday after a Tuesday meth spill got into air-handling system.

The white powder spilled at the jail around 1 p.m. while Stephen Garner was being booked, according to a release from the Darke County Sheriff’s Office. The powder was identified Wednesday as methamphetamine by the Miami Valley Regional Crime Lab.

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Four officers and Garner had to be taken to WayneHealthcare, where they were treated and released. Garner was placed into the Ohio Adult Parole Authority’s custody, deputies said.

The jail resumed normal operations Tuesday and was believed to have been decontaminated.

However, in the morning hours Wednesday, In the morning hours, air-handling units were turned back on in the affected area.

“After several hours of routine operation, deputies and corrections officers began to feel ill and experienced abnormal vital signs,” the release stated.

Five corrections officers were taken to WayneHealthcare, and later as crews worked to identify and contain the situation, five more officers began to show signs of contamination and were taken to the hospital.

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“It is believed that the methamphetamine was drawn into a ventilation air handler at the time of the spill,” according to the release. “When the air handler was turned back on it distributed enough methamphetamine throughout the prisoner booking and intake area of the jail to result in toxic exposure to jail staff.”

The Darke County Jail structure operations on multiple separate air-handling units, and other areas of the jail, including inmate wards, 911 dispatch and the road patrol areas were not affected.

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However, 28 inmates were taken to Miami County and Mercer County jails and the jail operation will remain shut down until a private environmental contractor can clean and decontaminate the affected area, according to the sheriff’s office.

All sheriff's office numbers, and the 911 communications center, remain in service and will be answered as usual.

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