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Ron Walter Austin (2014, ACSD)

ACSD: Fleeing drug suspect dies after jumping into pond

On Thursday, April 12, around 11:45 pm, Anderson County Sheriff’s Narcotics Investigators observed what was believed to be a drug transaction between occupants of two vehicles in a local business parking lot near North Charles G. Seivers Blvd. in Clinton.

According to a press release from the ACSD, deputies attempted to stop both vehicles as they left the parking lot.  One did stop, but the other fled from North Charles G. Seivers Blvd. onto I-75 where deputies saw the driver throw out an article out of the car window.  The pursuit continued Southbound on I-75 until the car exited at Raccoon Valley Road and turned back into Anderson County.  The chase continued on several county roads until the driver stopped at the dead end of Nature Lane at Blockhouse Valley Road in Claxton.

According to the pres release, the driver fled on foot, through the woods, and jumped into a small pond near the road.  After entering the pond, the driver was seen to be in distress.  A deputy followed the driver into the pond, swam over, and pulled him from the water.  As the driver was unresponsive, deputies started and continued CPR until EMS and fire crews arrived.  Paramedics were unable to revive the driver and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

After investigation the driver was identified as 41-year-old Ron Walter Austin of Andersonville.

According to the Sheriff’s Department, Austin had a lengthy arrest history and had been on state parole for methamphetamine charges as well as federal supervised release after serving time in federal prison on similar charges at the time of his death.

An autopsy will be performed at the Regional Forensic Center in Knoxville.  At this time it is not known if the death is from drowning, drug related, or from some other medical problem.

Suspected prescription narcotics were found in the first vehicle that was stopped by investigators.  Deputies searchedinto Friday morning but were unable to locate whatever was thrown from the car onto the interstate, according to the release.

The drug investigation is ongoing and no additional information can be released on that at this time.

Attached is a 2014 mugshot of Austin.

Officials say they are not sure how long it will take to have the autopsy and toxicology results, but Chief Deputy Mark Lucas pledged to try to update everyone when there is new information.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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