Sullivan Co. deputy fired after sleeping on job as inmate escaped

Johnson City Press • Updated Apr 21, 2018 at 5:18 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — A Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office jailer was fired Saturday morning after he fell asleep while on watch over an inmate, who escaped in the deputy’s personal vehicle, a department spokesman said in a news release.

Deputy Buck Owens was supposed to be guarding inmate Donovan Austin, who was receiving treatment at Bristol Regional Medical Center, Capt. Andy Seabolt reported.

Just before 7 a.m., Sheriff Wayne Anderson was notified that Austin had left the hospital. Austin drove away in Owens’ vehicle, which had been parked in the hospital’s lot.

Seabolt said deputies soon found Austin and the vehicle, leading to a short chase that ended at the Interstate 81/Airport Parkway interchange. Austin was captured within an hour of leaving the hospital.

Anderson fired Owens for falling asleep.

Austin’s original charges were:

• Evading arrest – 5 counts.

• Resisting arrest.

• Theft of property over $2,500.

• Theft of property over $1,000.

• Driving on suspended or revoked license — 2 counts.

• Leaving the scene of an accident with property damage.

• Stolen property offenses (receiving/concealing).

• Failure to report an accident.

• Indecent exposure.

• Burglary.

• Failure to appear.

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