Hensley said officers with the Erwin Police Department responded late Thursday evening to the Scotchman service station on North Elm Avenue in reference to the report of an intoxicated driver. There, officers found Nathan Silvers, 37, in his vehicle. Hensley said the officer woke Silvers up and got him out of the vehicle, adding that Silvers flunked sobriety tests.
Officers determined that Silvers was intoxicated and found him to be in possession of Xanax, Hensley said.
"He admitted he had been shooting up Xanax to the officers," Hensley said.
Silvers was transported to the Unicoi County Jail. Hensley said Silvers walked into the facility on his own, provided jail staff with the necessary booking information and was fingerprinted.
"Everything was protocol," Hensley said. "There were no problems whatsoever. Of course, he was intoxicated and he had the actions of an intoxicated person."
As is standard with intoxicated people booked into the jail, Silvers was placed in a cell by himself, Hensley said. The sheriff said Silvers lay down and began snoring. He said jail staff conducted period checks on Silvers from 11:30 p.m. Thursday through around 2 a.m. Friday. At some time past 2 a.m., jail staff noticed Silvers was no longer snoring an was unresponsive.
Hensley said the jail staff began CPR, and the local EMS was contacted. Silvers was transported to the emergency room at Unicoi County Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead some time after 2 a.m., Hensley said.
Hensley said he contacted District Attorney General Tony Clark after learning of Silvers' death and requested the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation investigate the matter. Unicoi County Coroner Ed Herndon was also contacted, and an autopsy was requested, Hensley said, adding that Unicoi County Sheriff's Department officials have requested that this autopsy be expedited.
UCSD Chaplain Garland James was contacted after Silvers was pronounced dead and James, along with UCSD Chief Deputy Frank Rogers and another deputy, notified Silvers' family.
The sheriff said the TBI was handling the investigation.
"I want to commend my officers for the work they done, the jail," Hensley said. "I had officers and jailers doing CPR. They helped do CRP all along to try to revive him, and the could not revive him, but they did an excellent job. It's one of those things, it happens and it's sad that it happens, but everything was done by the book. I'm very proud of how they handled things.
"I hate it for him. I hate it for the family ... Our prayers are with the family."