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Update March 31, 2020 12:30 p.m.:

The Smyth County Sheriff's Office has identified a man who died Saturday night after he was taken into custody.

Sheriff Chip Shuler said the results are pending of an autopsy performed yesterday on 59-year-old David C. Helsel, of Chattanooga, Tennessee. 

According to an earlier release, the man experienced a medical emergency after being taken into custody. The man died despite officer attempts to revive him.

The incident remains under investigation.


Original Story March 29, 2020:

A Smyth County deputy and two Marion police officers were injured in a Saturday night incident that ended with the suspect dying following a medical crisis despite law enforcement officers' attempts to revive him.

At about 8:45 p.m. Saturday, March 28, the Smyth County 911 Center received a call reporting that a green Ford Ranger pickup was driving on the wrong side of Nicks Creek Road in Atkins. As deputies were dispatched to the area, another 911 call came in saying the same vehicle had broken through the security gate at Utility Trailer's Atkins plant.

A federal law enforcement agent, state police troopers, and a deputy intercepted the vehicle on Nicks Creek Road. However, a sheriff's office press release said, the suspect vehicle would not stop. During the brief pursuit that followed, the release said, the suspect vehicle attempted to strike several law enforcement vehicles and did hit a Smyth County Sheriff’s Deputy head on.

As the pickup continued to flee, a Smyth County deputy forced it off the roadway. The suspect, the release said, then attempted to set his vehicle on fire as officers tried to remove him from inside it. After forced entry was made, the man was removed and became combative during the arrest.

According to the report, once the suspect was in custody, he suffered a medical emergency. Law enforcement officers gave the man CPR until EMS units arrived. The suspect was then transported to Smyth County Community Hospital, where he died.

A joint investigation by the Smyth County Sheriff’s Office, the Marion Police Department, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Virginia State Police is currently under way. The release also said the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Roanoke has been notified and will be conducting an autopsy.

The release also said that a Smyth County deputy and two Marion Police officers suffered minor injuries in the incident. They were all treated and released from the Smyth County Community Hospital Emergency Room.

Agencies responding to the original call were the Smyth County Sheriff’s Office, the Virginia State Police, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Marion Police Department.

The suspect's name of the suspect is being witheld pending notification of his family.

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