Attendant Dies After Struggle With Maximum Security Patient

Authorities say an attendant at the state's largest mental hospital at Chattahoochee collapsed and died after a struggle with a patient in the facility's unit for the criminally insane.

Authorities say 52-year-old James Smith of Gretna apparently died from a heart attack Thursday night after coming to the aid of a co-worker. Smith had worked at Florida State Hospital for more than 32 years.

The name of the patient was not released due to state privacy laws.

A spokeswoman with the Department of Children & Families says Smith broke up an altercation Thursday between the patient and a fellow employee in a maximum security unit reserved for treatment of patients found incompetent to stand trail. The other employee suffered minor injuries.

Smith was taken to a local hospital, but could not be revived.

An autopsy is scheduled to determine the exact cause of death.

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