Search intensifies for Austin man, hospital escapee

VERNON, Texas (KXAN) — The search has intensified for an Austin man who escaped from a state psychological hospital Sunday evening.

Alexander Ervin had been on the North Texas State Hospital, in Vernon, since a jury acquitted him in 2014 of his father’s homicide by cause of madness.

Ervin was seen climbing over an eight-foot fence on the state hospital earlier than operating off.

The police chief there, Randy Agan, stated since then, they’ve devoted extra manpower and time to discovering him over considerations he could flip violent.

“Everyone has expressed considerations if he’s not acquired his medicines, that he turns into extra violent. And that could be a excessive concern for us right here in Vernon,” Agan stated.

Agan stated companions within the search embody the Texas Rangers, Texas Division of Public Security, the Workplace of the Legal professional Common, and the U.S. Marshal’s Workplace, together with the Wilbarger County Sheriff’s Division.

He stated they’ve searched dozens of buildings in and round Vernon, and are additionally trying to find Ervin by air.

“Now we have utilized plane attempting to go looking dense areas with… know-how and radar techniques to find out if somebody may be hiding inside dense areas alongside the river and… round different areas which have a excessive density of brush and timber,” he stated. “Or something which will obscure obstructive view of simply driving by and at it.”

Agan stated he couldn’t touch upon how Ervin could have escaped the state hospital.

New information exhibits the battle to rent employees at state hospitals. In a presentation to state lawmakers this week, Texas Well being and Human providers stated they’ve greater than 1,000 unfilled positions at state hospitals, exhibiting a chart depicting employees decline since 2020.

A chart from the Texas Well being and Human Providers Division’s presentation to a Texas Home committee this week that exhibits the decline of stuffed positions at state hospitals since 2020.

Spokesperson Kelli Weldon stated they’ve diminished the variety of sufferers in Vernon to verify they’re assembly staffing requirements set by the Joint Commissioner.

“We do have a necessity for added employees, and we’re actively working to recruit and rent extra crew members to supply care and remedy for the psychiatric sufferers we serve on the hospital,” wrote Weldon in an electronic mail to KXAN.

In line with HHS’ presentation, they’re working hospitals throughout the state at diminished capability, with greater than 700 beds offline.

When pressed on how somebody might need escaped the ability and the place on the grounds guards had been on Sunday evening, Weldon stated they may not present that info.

“Now we have employees current 24/7 on the facility. We take security and safety on the facility severely, and for safety causes we can not present particular details about safety measures,” Weldon wrote.

Weldon additionally stated that when there’s an escapee, normally, protocol is to alert legislation enforcement and, if acceptable, HHSC Supplier Investigations, which additionally investigates claims of abuse, neglect or exploitation.

Weldon added that in addition they conduct a evaluate to strengthen insurance policies and procedures, as wanted.

Agan stated they may examine how Ervin escaped from the hospital, too, however are first targeted on discovering him.

“Now we have notified all neighboring businesses and businesses in Austin, the place Ervin is from, and so they’re conducting searches of their areas,” he stated.

He inspired people to be alert.

“Concentrate on your environment. If you happen to see one thing, name it in. Nothing’s too small,” he stated.

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