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A group of inmates managed to break free from their cell in order to save a jailer in Weatherford, Texas, who had apparently suffered a heart attack late last month, Dallas-area television station WFAA reported Thursday.
Eight prisoners were behind a locked door on June 23 in the holding cell of the District Courts Building in Parker County when the officer slumped over after joking with them.
“He just fell over,” inmate Nick Kelton told the station. “Looked like an act. Could have died right there.”
After Kelton and the other inmates realized something was wrong, they started yelling for help. When no one came, the shackled inmates broke out of the holding room.
The guard didn’t have a pulse, so the inmates started shouting and banging on doors so loudly that deputies upstairs in court thought there was a fight.
Deputies told the station they didn’t know what to expect when they got downstairs.
The jailer had keys and a gun.
“It could have been an extremely bad situation,” Parker County sheriff’s Sgt. Ryan Speegle told the station.
When deputies realized what was going on, they got the inmates and began CPR on the officer. Capt. Mark Arnett said the prisoners likely saved the officer’s life.
The jailer, who has not been identified, is expected to return to work next week.
“I watched him die twice,” Kelton said. “It never crossed my mind not to help whether he’s got a gun or a badge. If he falls down, I’m going to help him.”
The room the inmates broke out of has been reinforced.