Parent of 18-year-old who died in jail desperate to know what happened

Parent of 18-year-old who died in jail desperate to know what happened

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into what led to the death of a teen in the Dawson County jail.

Channel 2′s Mike Petchenik talked to Jonathan Sanford’s parents, who are devastated at the loss of their son and said they just want answers.

Sandford's parents described the 18-year-old as a typical teenager, a recent high school graduate looking forward to a fun summer with friends.

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His mother, Stephanie McClure, said Sanford was headed to college in the fall and was just looking forward to spending time with friends this summer. Instead, earlier this week, friends and family were protesting his death outside of the jail.

"He was a good kid," McClure said. "He loved hiking and fishing and being outdoors."

On June 2, Dawson County deputies pulled Sanford over off Marketplace Parkway and arrested him on DUI and drug possession charges.

His family never heard from him, and the next day, jailers found him dead in his cell.

“It’s news no parent should ever have to find out,” McClure said. “Especially when there is no explanation and they don’t know. In the back of my mind they probably thought he was OK because he’s young and healthy maybe, and I think he just got put to the side.”

Attorney A.J. Richman is helping the family find answers.

“He was under Dawson county’s care and control, their supervision” Richman said. “And he died and these parents are left grieving with no explanation. Nothing.”

In a statement, the sheriff’s office said it extends its deepest sympathies to the Sanford family.

"Out of respect to the memory of Jonathan and to allow for an untainted investigation, it has been necessary to limit the amount of information released to the public," the sheriff's department wrote.

The sheriff went on to say that there were no incidents between law enforcement and Sanford during his stay at the jail.

The sheriff said he immediately called on the GBI to investigate what happened.