Jail van breaks down on trip

Published 10:10 am Friday, October 2, 2015

Prisoners were being transported to Morrow

Good fortune and an equally good Samaritan enabled Lawrence County Sheriff’s deputies to avoid a potentially serious situation and probably a bill.

While transporting 18 prisoners by van to Morrow County on Wednesday, the deputies were passing Columbus, when they realized there was a problem with the vehicle.

Since June a number of prisoners have been transported to Morrow to alleviate the overcrowding at the county jail.

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“They were on U.S. 40 when they began having trouble,” Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless said. “They came off the exit onto Broad Street and right there was Dave Gill’s Chevrolet.”

The coolant hose had ruptured and the line had lost all fluid. The deputies were able to pull into the dealership where a mechanic worked on the car for about an hour.

“They told the officers it would be no cost. They did that out of the kindness of their heart,” Lawless said.

On Thursday Lawless called the dealership to thank them and ask for a bill.

“I was told they didn’t think we would be seeing a bill,” the sheriff said.

While the vehicle was worked on, the inmates remained inside seated, secured by their restraints and under guard, he said.

“You are in Columbus in heavy traffic,” Lawless said. “It is a fear of law enforcement that when you are transporting, you don’t want anyone to know you are transporting because relatives or loved ones may try to break them out.”

This repair was done by opening up the hood. If the repair had required the van to be put on the grease rack, deputies would have had to call Franklin County Sheriff’s Office to have officers transport the inmates to that jail.

“(The break) is from wear and tear,” Lawless said. “These hoses wear out after long miles and long use, especially after a lot of miles.”

This summer the sheriff requested a replacement van, which the commissioners said they would pay for by borrowing $40,000 from the county’s Neighborhood Investment Program. They are supposed to meet on that later this month.