Driver crashes into county jail

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David Minton/DRC
Sheriff’s deputies stand watch after a pickup crashed through a fence and punched a large hole in an exterior wall of the West Pod of the Denton County Jail on Saturday.

The Denton County Jail was on lockdown for nearly four hours Saturday after a 34-year-old man attempted to drive through the back of the west wing during afternoon visitation hours, according to sheriff’s officials.

Rolando Hernandez of Lewisville is in custody and will be charged with felony criminal mischief more than $20,000, less than $100,000, pending estimates provided by the contractors of the jail facility Monday morning, investigators working the case said. Hernandez is also being charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a weapon/causing bodily injury.

“The jail received extensive damage,” Sgt. Larry Kish said. “He created a hole in the back of the jail 3-1/2 to 5 inches wide by at least 5 foot tall.”

Sheriff Will Travis said the driver was coming to visit his son when he was refused visitation rights by a jailer who reported the man was “extremely under the influence” around 1:50 p.m.

Sandi Brackeen, spokeswoman for sheriff’s office, said the jailer followed the man on foot and called for backup when he realized the man was getting into a truck. After being approached verbally by the jailer, he drove off.

Sheriff’s officials said once he got into his truck, Hernandez ran into two white four-door cars before turning toward the backside of pod Unit 16 and smashing his red Dodge into the wall.

“The truck jumped the curb and ran through the security fence and hit the back of the building, knocking two inmates from their beds,” Travis said.

The two inmates who were knocked from their bunks as a result of the crash were transported to Denton Regional Medical Center before being cleared with minor injuries, according to officials. Those injuries led to the two bodily injury charges.

The west wing was evacuated and all inmates were moved into additional holding cells throughout the jail, Travis said.

The west wing pod houses 48 inmates.

Hernandez was transported to Denton Regional for a full examination. His injuries are not life threatening, investigators said.

During the investigation, officials found a pistol in the front seat of the suspect’s truck.

Investigators said all jail visitation is on hold until further notice.

An investigation into the incident is continuing.

“Our jail is safe and secure, everyone worked closely to make sure nobody got in or out during the incident,” Travis said.

MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is mgray@dentonrc.com.


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