Car crashes into new Rockdale County Jail

CONYERS - Just hours after a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Rockdale County Jail, a woman drove her vehicle through the front of the new building.

"We had our ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4:30 p.m. and a few hours later we had a grand opening," Sheriff Jeff Wigington said Tuesday with a tone of irony.

According to the incident report filed by Rockdale County Sheriff's Office Deputy Matthew Munger, RCSO Deputy Timothy Wade called for backup just before midnight Monday as he attempted to pull over the driver of a blue 2000 Dodge Durango on Chambers Drive, near the sheriff's office.

The driver turned onto Sigman Industrial Boulevard and finally stopped outside the work release building, next to the new jail.

Wade and Munger approached the driver to ask her what was wrong and she said, "she was having some problems and she needed to go to the hospital," according to Munger's report.

The woman then began to rev her engine and drove her vehicle toward Munger's patrol car and headed in the direction of the new jail, the report said.

"(The woman) then turned right into the parking lot of the new Rockdale County Jail and traveled towards the front door. (She) then jumped the (curb), crashing through the front doors to the new Rockdale County Jail," Munger reported.

Munger drew his service weapon and commanded the woman to get out of her truck.

"(She) exited the vehicle with her hands up and stood with her back to me," he said. "After a brief struggle, (the woman) was taken into custody."

She was transported to Rockdale Medical Center by ambulance where she was evaluated. The case has been turned over to the Georgia State Patrol.

"All in all, it's probably as best as it could be in this situation," Wigington said. "There appears to be no structural damage and the major damage was to the glass and aluminum framing for the glass. ... It's significant damage but not structural."

He said the county will acquire estimates of the damage and will likely pursue the woman's automobile insurance carrier to cover the cost.

On Monday, the Sheriff's Office held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the 384-bed men's jail. The sales-tax funded expansion has undergone a number of revisions due to budget constraints.

Voters approved a six-year special purpose local option sales tax in 2004 with $22.3 million to go toward the jail, but the county had designs that were almost eight years old. By the time construction began in 2007, the jail addition project was $5.5 million over budget.

Reducing the number of beds from an original design for 400, opting for steel cells instead of concrete and using county and inmate labor were just some of the cost-saving measures used.

The sheriff said the wreck should not delay the official opening of the jail. He said the Sheriff's Office is still hiring and training staff. Prisoners should move in by the end of January, he said.

Aimee Jones can be reached at aimee.jones@rockdalecitizen.com.