Local police along with search and rescue teams continue efforts this morning to find an escaped mental health patient who jumped into the Tennessee River Tuesday night.
But good news surfaced in a separate incident when police located a 27-year-old woman at her Chattanooga home who was believed missing after she and a 40-year-old man jumped into the river at 1 a.m. today.
Officials with Moccasin Bend Mental Health Facility reported to police that Waylon Farless, 36, escaped one of their buildings and leaped into the river at about 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Witnesses told police they saw him swim about halfway across the river before calling for help, then submerging.
Farless was on a criminal hold at the facility out of DeKalb County, Tenn. The 156-pound, 5-foot-9 man was last seen wearing a black T-shirt and gray shorts. Chattanooga police Chief Bobby Dodd advised anyone who sees Farless to contact authorities.
Dodd did not have specifics of the criminal charges against Farless before he was admitted to Moccasin Bend.
A few hours after Farless’ escape, in an unrelated incident, William Toner and Ashley Smart were seen jumping into the river near the Market Street bridge. Patrol officers were able to rescue Toner with the help of a private boater.
Dodd said the search operation was called off early this morning as divers encountered problems in the dark waters. Police had planned to resume searching for Smart this morning but investigators discovered she’d made it out of the river and walked home.
Toner was arrested on charges of public intoxication and reckless endangerment.
Both he and Smart may face civil penalties for the cost of the searches, Dodd said.
Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...