SANDUSKY— A Berlin Township man is in critical condition in the intensive care unit of a Toledo hospital after reportedly attempting to commit suicide Tuesday at the Erie County Jail.
Timothy J. Thayer, 47, fell about 13 feet from a second floor walkway about 2:15 p.m. and suffered critical injuries to his head and spine. A medical helicopter transported him from Firelands Regional Medical Center to St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center.
Erie County Sheriff’s Capt. Paul Sigsworth said witnesses saw Thayer climb to the walkway in his cell block and intentionally lean over the railing. Before the incident, the man had talked to his defense attorney, a county public defender, about possibly withdrawing his Aug. 22 plea to felonious assault, Sigsworth said.
When Thayer was booked in the jail Jan. 23, he told corrections officers he “had attempted suicide in the past,” Assistant Jail Administrator Bob Robles said.
“That’s a standard question we ask everyone,” he noted.
Thayer’s comment meant he automatically was taken to the hospital for a mental health evaluation and placed under suicide watch when returned to the jail. Robles said it’s up to the evaluators to determine when a prisoner is no longer under suicide watch.
Mental health professionals come to the Erie County Jail twice a week to speak to prisoners who request counseling, have threatened to commit suicide or have shown suicidal tendencies.
Robles said prisoners attempt suicide “all the time,” with some of the attempts being less serious than others, “but nobody has done what (Thayer) did” without previous indications. The assistant jail administrator said all suicide attempts are taken seriously.
Robles said there were two suicides in the jail many years ago. He had no information on what would happen with Thayer after he is released from the hospital.
Sigsworth said the incident involving Thayer, in which a prisoner intentionally dropped off a second floor walkway, was the first such incident since the jail opened in 1990. Officers didn’t find a suicide note, but did discover a letter Thayer wrote to Erie County Common Pleas Judge Roger Binnette, saying he wished to withdraw his felonious assault plea.
On Jan. 23, deputies arrested Thayer and charged him with having weapons under disability in connection with a Darrow Road disturbance. An Erie County grand jury later indicted him on attempted murder, felonious assault, abduction and the weapons offense. Thayer has been unable to post a $100,000 bond since his indictment.