Leap of faith: Inmates save suicidal man with laundry cart

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher called three men heroes after they helped save the life of a fellow inmate who attempted suicide in the jail.

"Thank you gentlemen, you're heroes," said Fletcher. "You saved a guy's life."

It was around 7 p.m. on Wednesday when an inmate climbed out to the ledge on the 25-foot second floor of a cellblock, threatening to jump.

Deonte Blackwell, who is also a custodian in the jail, jumped into action.

"My natural instinct was to catch the guy," Blackwell said.

He quickly thought to break the man's fall with a laundry cart.

"So I ran over and grabbed the bin and said 'don't do it'", Blackwell recalled.

The other inmates were yelling at him not to jump.

"I'm moving the bin like he's trying to avoid it," Blackwell said.

The desperate inmate jumped and Blackwell got a clean catch. The hamper was filled with towels, the man's only injury is a twisted ankle.

"We are not judged by whether or not we are in here, but what's in our heart," Fletcher told the men.

Blackwell is in jail for a DWI. "I think there's a hero in everybody," he said.

Austin Dirkx is also in for DWI. "We're not all bad, here some of us have good hearts," Dirkx said.

Rodolfo Delangel is serving time for drug possession and faced deportation.

"Just because we are locked up doesn't mean that life is not important," Delangel said through a translator.

All three men should be getting out of jail next month. The sheriff said he would probably put some extra money in the commissary for them.


Suicide attempts at the Ramsey County Jail are not unusual, it happens about once a month.

A corrections officer stopped a man from jumping a couple days ago.

Two years ago, another inmate, Christian Smalley, jumped from the same balcony in another cellblock and died from a head injury.

Next week the Ramsey County Board is expect to approve an additional $800,000 to build barriers for the second floor. The total cost of the barriers will be $1.6 million and construction should be completed by 2021.


The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 800-273-8255. The hotline has trained staff available 24/7 to help those in crisis. Everyone can play a role in preventing suicide by being aware of the warning signs of suicidal behaviors:


If you believe someone is at risk of suicide: