Darke County Jail closed, evacuated after drug spill

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A meth spill led officials to shut down the Darke County Jail Wednesday.

Ten Darke County Sheriff’s Deputies and corrections officers were hospitalized because of the spill.

The spill happened on Tuesday, April 17 when deputies were booking a man into the jail on a parole violation.

The man had baggies of an unknown white powder. At some point, one of the bags opened and the powder spilled on the floor, the inmate and several deputies.

Four deputies and corrections officers and the suspect were hospitalized due to exposure of the powder at that time.

The jail was placed on lockdown due to the spill.

Crews cleaned up the spill and decontaminated the area, with the jail resumed normal operations after nearly two hours.

On Wednesday, April 18, normal operations continued at the jail. In the morning hours, air-handling units were turned back on in the affected area of the jail.

After several hours, deputies and corrections officers began feeling ill and experiencing abnormal vital signs. Five corrections officers were taken to Wayne Healthcare due to their symptoms.

Additional deputies and officers were called in to staff the jail. 

As crews worked to identify and contain the situation, five additional officers began to exhibit symptoms of contamination. Those five officers were also taken to Wayne Healthcare.

The Miami Valley Regional Crime Lab was able to identify that the white powder spilled in the jail on April 17th was methamphetamine.  It is believed that the methamphetamine was drawn in to a ventilation air handler at the time of the spill. 

When the air handler was turned back on during the morning of April 18th, it distributed enough methamphetamine throughout the prisoner booking and intake area of the jail to result in a toxic exposure to jail staff. 

Because this particular area of the jail is also where the control room is located, the jail had to be shut down. 

The control room is the location where all mechanical security aspects of the jail are operated.  Since this room could no longer function due to contamination, it required that the Darke County Jail be evacuated of all inmates and the jail operation be shut down. 

Some inmates were scheduled to be released or were released by the judge on an OR bond.  Approximately 28 inmates were transported to Miami County and Mercer County Jail. 

The Darke County Clandestine Drug Lab deputies operated the control room while wearing self-contained breathing apparatus until the evacuation was complete. 

The Darke County Jail structure operates on multiple separate air-handling units.  None of the air-handling units in other areas of the jail including inmate wards, 911 dispatch and the road patrol was affected by the contamination.  As a result, none of the inmates in the jail was contaminated or complained of illness. 

The jail operation of the Darke County Sheriff’s Office will remain closed until a private environmental contractor can clean and decontaminate the affected area.

The Darke County Sheriff’s Office 911 Communications Center and road patrol remains operational as usual.  All Sheriff’s Office numbers remain in service and will be answered as normal.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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