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Mental patient jumps from car

By Seth Burkett 340-2355

A man seriously injured when he leapt from a moving car had recently been a patient at North Alabama Regional Hospital, Decatur police said Friday.

Quinton Hicks, 21, suffered head injuries Wednesday afternoon when he jumped from the southbound car and struck the asphalt of U.S. 31 South near J.H. Crow Road, police said.

The site was less than one-half mile from the hospital, and only a block from the Mental Health Center of North Alabama.

While it was not clear whether Hicks was a patient at either facility immediately before the incident, The Daily was able to verify that Decatur police placed Hicks in the custody of North Alabama Regional Hospital upon his release from the city jail Oct. 18.

Lt. Dennis Hughes, a police spokesman, said Hicks and family members "had just left the Mental Health Center and were headed to their residence in Northwest Decatur."

Hicks' family intended to stop at the Social Security Administration office on their way home, but Hicks wanted to go directly home, Hughes said.

"Before anyone could stop him, he opened the car door and stepped out of the moving vehicle," Hughes said. "Several witnesses observed him jump from the vehicle and tumble across the roadway."

A witness went to the nearby state trooper post and alerted authorities. An ambulance took Hicks to Decatur General Hospital.

"Quinton's condition was reported as serious with a possible fractured skull and brain damage," Hughes said. "He was transferred by MedFlight to Huntsville Hospital."

Hicks remained in fair condition in the neurological intensive care unit late Friday, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Police arrested Hicks on Aug. 20 on a charge of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor. With bond on eight previous charges revoked, Hicks remained in jail until his release to the hospital.

Morgan County Probate Judge Greg Cain said a commitment hearing for Hicks did not take place in his courtroom because Hicks was incarcerated at the time. The probate court, which normally handles mental health cases, has no jurisdiction over an incarcerated person.

"There was a commitment petition that was filed through Judge (Glenn) Thompson's courtroom," Cain said. "It is my understanding that he was committed to North Alabama Regional Hospital sometime in the last two weeks."

Attempts to reach Thompson were unsuccessful.

A woman who identified herself as Hicks' mother answered the phone in a waiting room at Huntsville Hospital on Friday night, but she declined to speak with a reporter.

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