MOULTRIE -- A 16-year-old prisoner wreaked havoc Wednesday when he sent a torrent of toilet water down a hallway, where it dripped into a records office in the next floor, county officials said.

"We were lucky," said Carolyn Brazel, clerk of Colquitt County Superior Court. "The leak came through the ceiling where the light fixtures are. It really only damaged one book that was laid on the table."

A title searcher heard the sound of falling water and moved the book after only a little of the water had dripped on it. Only one page was damaged and the writing is all legible, Brazel said.

"I only cried for about 15 minutes," she said.

The teen-age prisoner who caused the mess will not be as lucky, County Administrator Marion Hay said. Hay said that Juvenile Court Judge Bill McIntosh has agreed to add the cost of repairs to the youth's sentence.

He also faces charges for damaging government property.

The teen apparently stopped up the toilet of his holding cell and flushed it, sending water out into the hallway. The teen also allegedly kicked the wooden door of the third-floor cell, damaging the lock.

Hay said that the doorway will be replaced with a metal door. He said he is not sure how much it will cost to replace the door and replace part of the roof over the clerk's office.

"Common sense says don't put another wooden door up there. I don't know why we put a wooden door there to begin with," he said. "Our architects said we needed a wooden door."

Regardless of the type of door on the cell, if proper procedures had been followed the youth would not have been able to run amok, Hay said. The youth should have been strapped to a bench in the cell, which he was not, and a guard should have been in the area.

"If we don't watch them when we put them in the holding cell, they will do it again," he said. "If they can't watch them, they need to keep them secured to those benches."

Architect David Hill, who worked on the courthouse renovation, said that he does not remember specifically the door on the holding cell.

"I know there was a wooden door there before," he said.

-- By Alan Mauldin



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