11.20 gown

James Rayner is escorted to a sheriff's department cruiser by deputy Jason Mills after being arrested Friday. 

Suspect flees hospital in gown, caught behind Taco Bell

A suspect who made a run for the border — first on a four-wheeler then in a hospital gown — couldn’t escape the long arm of the law.

James Rayner, 32, was taken into custody behind the Taco Bell on 16th Avenue early Friday afternoon after he walked out of South Central Regional Medical Center, where he was being treated for injuries he received in an ATV crash that occurred when he was trying to get away from Investigator Reuben Bishop of the Jones County Sheriff’s Department.

Bishop was riding on Burnt Bridge Road in Pendorff when he saw Rayner riding on the road, JCSD officials said. When Rayner saw Bishop, he turned on Pruitt Road and was traveling at a high rate of speed when he came to the end of the road and crashed into a ravine in the woods.

He was injured, so he was transported by EMServ Ambulance to SCRMC. But while he was being treated, he reportedly fled from the hospital. Rayner was captured a short time later by Laurel police on South 17th Avenue after going behind Taco Bell and BancorpSouth, not far from the hospital. He was then transferred to JCSD Deputy Jason Mills and, after being evaluated at SCRMC, transported to the Jones County Adult Detention Center.

He was charged with possession of a controlled substance, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.

“We greatly appreciate the assistance of the Laurel Police Department in affecting the capture of James Rayner while still wearing an SCRMC hospital gown,” Sheriff Joe Berlin said. “It’s never a good idea to run from law enforcement whether on an ATV, in a vehicle or on foot. Wearing a hospital gown while running down the road is a good indicator that something is amiss.”

Rayner has numerous arrests on his record, including one for grand larceny in January 2020.

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