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Published: Friday, 4/1/2005

Sandusky County jail inmate killed in fall

An inmate at the Sandusky County jail fell more than 15 feet to his death in an accident at the lockup, Sheriff David Gangwer said yesterday.

Thomas Allen Reed, 19, of Sandusky, was pronounced dead at the jail shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday by a doctor from the LifeFlight helicopter service. County Coroner John Wukie directed that the body be taken to Lucas County for an autopsy, the sheriff said.

Sheriff Gangwer said Mr. Reed was hurrying out of his second-floor cell to get to dinner about 4:40 p.m. when he jumped over a balcony railing to reach a stairway. He missed the stairway, however, and fell, striking another inmate on the shoulder and then hitting the floor head-first, the sheriff said.

"He just wanted to beat the crowd," Sheriff Gangwer said. "A very foolish thing, a very unfortunate thing ... it was totally an accident."

The inmate who was struck by Mr. Reed was not injured, the sheriff said.

Mr. Reed and other inmates in the medium-security pod had been locked into their cells as trustys delivered trays of food to a table in a first-floor common area, the sheriff said. Once the trustys had left, jail staff opened the cell doors electronically, and Mr. Reed and other inmates were headed for their waiting dinners when the accident occurred.

Mr. Reed had been arrested Sunday on charges of safe-cracking, breaking and entering, and failure to appear, the sheriff said. He pleaded guilty Monday to breaking and entering and had been in the jail awaiting sentencing.

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