U-R update

EATONTON, Ga. — Brian Hicks is no longer the acting coroner of Putnam County and he no longer works with the Putnam County Emergency Medical Services, according to a county official.

He was discovered passed out drunk in the coroner’s office on Monday before he was to clock in as a cardiac technician with the county’s emergency medical services, where he had worked for the last 12 years, according to Putnam County Manager Paul Van Haulte.

“He never clocked in for work with our EMS,” Van Haulte told The Union-Recorder in a Friday morning telephone interview. “He was found passed out on the floor of the coroner’s office.”

Hicks reported for work Monday but was sent home.

“He was drug-tested first thing for reasonable suspicion,” Van Haulte said, noting that Hicks was tested for marijuana and cocaine Monday morning. “The drug test came back clean.”

On Monday night, Hicks was discovered passed out drunk on the floor of the coroner’s office, the county manager said.

The coroner’s office is located in the Putnam County EMS Station 8, which is considered the headquarters building in Eatonton.

Van Haulte said county officials found no evidence of alcoholic beverages in the coroner’s office or the EMS area.

EMS Director John Bradford “Brad” Murphey later called the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and requested that a deputy come to the EMS station to analyze an employee’s breath for alcohol, according to an incident report filed by Deputy Mark Adams.

In his report, Adams said Deputy Coroner Cooper Rainey unlocked the door of the coroner’s office to let him inside. Afterward, the deputy said he discovered Hicks asleep on a mattress on the floor.

Adams said in his report that he could smell the odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from Hicks’ person.

Hicks reportedly told the deputy after he was awakened, that he had not had anything to drink in three to four hours.

Hicks subsequently agreed to submit to a breath sample. The result from the breathalyzer was 0.246. 

Hicks, who was appointed acting coroner following the resignation of longtime Putnam County Coroner Gary McElhenney, officially resigned from both of his positions with the county on Thursday morning, the county manager said. 

The resignations followed a visit to a relative’s residence where Hicks was found by EMS Director Brad Murphy, Putnam County Human Resources Manager Cynthia Miller and Stephanie McMullen, who serves as the county’s public information officer, but who accompanied the other two county officials as a notary public.

 “They presented him with three documents, one of which dealt with the need for him to notify the office of Gov. Brian Kemp, to notify Lynn Lassiter, who is the county elections superintendent to remove his name from the ballot and the other one was a resignation letter to the county,” Van Haulte said, noting that he later delivered Hicks’ resignation letter as acting coroner to Probate Judge Karen Owens.

Van Haulte said Cooper Rainey, who had been serving as deputy coroner under Hicks, subsequently was appointed acting coroner of the county by Owens on Friday morning.

“We have to now figure out when to schedule an election for coroner,” Van Haulte said. “We’re trying to see if we can overlap it into the November general election. I’m hoping we can get this added to the November ballot, so we don’t have to call for a special election.”

The county manager said he hated what had happened regarding Hicks.

“It’s an awful thing; I hate it for him, personally,” Van Haulte said. “Everybody’s got things they have to deal with in their lives. All we can do now is pray he gets better and gets the help he needs. It’s just an awful thing; he’s been a great employee for 12 years.”

 Hicks worked for the county’s EMS since November 2008, according to personnel records.

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