NEWNAN, Ga. (AP) - A 17-year-old patient in Georgia temporarily escaped sheriff's custody while in transport on Wednesday.

According to Tracy Flanagan of the Fulton County Sheriff's Office, two deputies from that office were providing a medical transport of the patient on behalf of Grady Memorial Hospital to a state medical facility.

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The deputies stopped to allow the patient to use a gas station restroom during a trip to a medical facility for committal. The patient escaped custody and ran across Highway 29.

Coweta County deputies deployed a K-9 unit and set up a perimeter with the assistance of the Newnan Police Department and the Georgia State Patrol, and found the patient after searching for an hour-and-a-half. Fenninger says he voluntarily gave up.

The patient was turned back over to the Fulton County Sheriff's Office.

According to Flanagan, state law says that while patients are restrained during travel, they are not to be treated as criminal detainees. Sheriff's offices are required by law to provide transport for mental health patients from community hospitals to state psychiatric facilities.

The Fulton County Sheriff's Office is reviewing protocols and an investigation will be held if deemed necessary, Flanagan said.

Note: Story updated to clarify that the patient was not a prisoner, as was originally reported.


This comes months after two inmates escaped from a prison transport bus in Middle, Ga., killing two officers and remaining on the run for days. The investigation into that escape found five breeches in protocol leading up to the moments the two inmates escaped.

Shortly after that escape, 11Alive's Joe Henke went on a Fulton County Sheriff's Office transport bus to get a closer look at how the transport process works.

RELATED | Preventing tragedy: How prison transports are secured

At the time, Fulton County Lt. Chervon Forehand said, "“Once we are on the bus, we lock them in and they’re there until we get to our destination.”

The Fulton County buses are constructed with multiple locks, metal doors, cameras and a few other security items to keep prisoners in custody while in transit.