Suspect dies after pursuit in Lowndes County

May 17—VALDOSTA — A suspect fleeing from deputies and troopers died in Lowndes County Wednesday after being placed in the back of a state patrol cruiser, authorities said Friday.

Around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Georgia State Patrol troopers assisted Lowndes County Sheriff's Office deputies in a pursuit, a state patrol statement said. Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk said the pursuit involved a shoplifting case and that drugs were involved.

The pursuit involved a crash between a deputy and the fleeing suspect, the state patrol said.

Deputies performed a PIT maneuver to stop the car, and the driver fled on foot into nearby woods. He was pursued and taken into custody by deputies; after he was arrested, a trooper escorted him from the woods.

While walking back from the woods, the suspect began to feel weak and unsteady, said Lowndes County Coroner Austin Fiveash.

The suspect was secured in the back of a state patrol car. Minutes later, a trooper checking on the man found him unresponsive, the statement said.

The suspect began to convulse and law enforcement got him out of the car, Fiveash said.

Troopers and deputies gave the man medical aid, including two doses of Narcan, the state patrol said. Narcan is a medicine used to treat narcotic overdoses in an emergency.

EMTs took the man to South Georgia Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead, the statement said.

"He was not tased, he was not pepper sprayed, he was not shot," Fiveash said. Authorities have a working theory that he suffered from some sort of narcotic seizure, as he had told law enforcement he had ingested narcotics, the coroner said.

The suspect's remains are being autopsied by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Fiveash said.

The state patrol referred all inquiries to the sheriff's office; Paulk said no more information was available at this time.

Terry Richards is the senior reporter for The Valdosta Daily Times.