Woman dead after reportedly leaping from EMS vehicle

TROUP/SMITH COUNTY (TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) – Sitting on her bed in her Troup apartment, Tiny Pond pushed the button on her answering machine.

First a crackle, then her daughter's voice called out, "Hey mama it's me. Will you pick up the phone?"

A short pause and then the voice on the machine calls out hello three times.

Mrs. Pond turned and said she doesn't remember talking to her daughter, 36-year-old Crystal Chevell Delaune, that afternoon on Aug. 19, but she had just been to church with her daughter and she was proud her daughter had joined the church in New Summerfield that morning.

Hours later her daughter would be dead after jumping from an East Texas Medical Center ambulance taking her in for a mental and physical evaluation.

"I just don't understand what happened," she said. "I just don't know what to think caused all of this."

The Tyler Morning Telegraph has obtained the Cherokee County Sheriff's report. The incident began when deputies were dispatched to 155 Henderson Street in Reklaw on a welfare check on Mrs. Delaune.

The report states that deputies were called by New Summerfield Police Chief Dusty Lee to do the check because Mrs. Delaune had been acting strangely and Lee was worried about the home-school mother and her three small children.

The report states that Delaune's husband Jody said after she ran away from home earlier in the day and was found, she jumped out of the pickup truck, ran into the home saying everyone needed to pray and began screaming out prayers scaring her husband and children.

Delaune said his wife then made a pistol shape with her fingers and acted like she was shooting her young daughter in the head.

"Jody states that Crystal then started laughing very loudly for about five minutes straight, which really scared him. Jody states that Crystal told him that he and all of their children would die in a car wreck the next day," the report states.

Upon arrival at the residence, Deputy Brent Dickson found the woman to be in a delusional state and with her husband decided she needed to be evaluated for state of mind to ensure her safety.

Dickson placed the woman in his patrol car en route to Jacksonville to be evaluated, but she began acting ill and he feared she might be in medical distress so he called for an ambulance.

Det. John Raffield, who was assigned the case, said Mrs. Delaune attempted to flee from the ambulance, but Dickson caught her and told her if she tried to leave again he would handcuff her to the stretcher.

After calming the woman down, EMS personnel told Dickson they believed the woman would be fine.

But the report states that three miles outside of Rusk, the woman unfastened the three restraints holding her to the stretcher and attempted to get out of the ambulance.

The report states, "(EMS) called for assistance from the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office to help with a combative subject, but called back in less than a minute and told CCSO dispatch to disregard and the patient was under control again."

EMS personnel locked the doors of the ambulance to keep the woman from getting out.

Five minutes later the EMS crew called sheriff's dispatch again, but this time the report was that Mrs. Delaune had jumped from the ambulance landing on U.S. Highway 69 just south of Jacksonville.

"…Moore states that Mrs. Delaune jumped up from the stretcher and got to the rear doors of the ambulance, unlocked the doors and was attempting to jump out of the ambulance. (EMS personnel) said she tried to grab Mrs. Delaune's blue jean shorts to keep her inside the ambulance, but it was too late," the report stated.

The woman was loaded back into the ambulance and transported to Mother Frances Jacksonville, where she later died due to her injuries including massive head trauma.

The paramedic told detectives she had worked in a psych unit in a maximum security unit and in all of her years of experience and observation she said that she did not really believe the woman would have committed this act.

Raffield said the investigation is ongoing.

"We are awaiting the toxicology reports and the full autopsy so we might learn why this happened," he said.

Bill Jennings, Director of ETMC Risk Management, answered several questions posed by the newspaper in regards to the incident.

Why did EMS call for back-up from the sheriff's department?

"An issue arose that we felt warranted a call to law enforcement but it resolved itself quickly."

What are the protocols in dealing with patients with mental health issues?

"There are protocols in place, but they depend on each individual situation."

Are the paramedics still working for ETMC EMS ?

"Employment issues are considered confidential."

No other statements were made by ETMC officials about the incident or if any procedures would be addressed to prevent a similar incident.

Back in her apartment in Troup, Crystal Delaune's mother said she wants to know why and how it all happened.

"I have lost a husband, sisters, parents, but nothing compares to losing a child. I just want to know why this happened," she said. "I miss my baby. She was my world."


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