Attempted hanging reported at jail

Two Bedford ambulances wait outside the Bedford County Jail Wednesday evening after responding to reports of an attempted suicide.

Officials at the Bedford County Correctional Facility are investigating an inmate’s attempted suicide that occurred Wednesday.

Warden Troy Nelson said a 28-year-old woman inmate attempted to use a bed sheet to hang herself in her cell.

The woman was in critical condition as of Thursday afternoon, Nelson said.

“She was found by one of my correctional officers who was doing a security check,” Nelson said.

The woman was found at 7:40 p.m. Nelson said she was alone in the cell and was the only inmate lodged in that cell at the time.

Nelson said he was not sure how long the woman was alone in the cell or what had happened prior to her being discovered by a correctional officer. He noted the cell does not have a surveillance camera.

Bedford County emergency dispatch transmissions indicated that CPR and an automated external defibrillator were used after the woman was found.

The woman was taken to UPMC Bedford Memorial by ambulance and then flown by medical helicopter to a trauma center, Nelson said.

Nelson said the correctional facility has internal investigations of attempted suicide incidents. He said his investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Nelson said the woman had been incarcerated in the correctional facility multiple times in the past, but that he was not sure of the specifics of her current incarceration. He believed she had been at the facility about a year.

The woman had not been involved in any recent disciplinary or mental health incidents that would have indicated she would attempt suicide, Nelson said.

“To the best of my knowledge at this point, nothing that would have warned of something like this,” he said.

Sheriff Charwin Reichelderfer, who serves as chairman of the county’s prison board, said Thursday morning that Nelson was in charge of the investigation and that he had not spoken to the warden at that time.

“They go through an extensive protocol when something like this happens,” Reichelderfer said.

Nelson said state police would be part of the investigation in incidents when staff is involved or if there is a death at the facility. But the state code says the jail’s administrator is part of the investigative team.

One of the jail’s inmates died of asphyxia due to hanging on June 27, 2017. The inmate, Jeffrey A. McCracken, who was from Fulton County, committed suicide by hanging, county officials said at the time. He had been awaiting a court hearing on firearms charges when he was found.

The Bedford County Prison Board is scheduled to meet next Thursday.

Contact Will DeShong at wdeshong@bedfordgazette.com; 623-1151, ext. 150.

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