A Smith County Jail inmate has died of an apparent suicide. Inmate John Hays, age 45 of Tyler, was found unresponsive in his cell at 8:42 p.m. on February 26. Hays died by apparently hanging himself in his shower with a piece of bedding material. The announcement of Hays’ death was delayed until his family could be notified.

Smith County Jailers are required to check inmates each half hour. Hays' cell was checked shortly after 8:00 p.m. and there was no indication of any problem. On a subsequent check 22 minutes later, Hays was found unresponsive. Detention Officers and jail medical staff performed CPR and called 911.

First responders from the Tyler Fire Department and ETMC EMS arrived at 8:58 p.m. and transported Hays to ETMC where he was pronounced. Justice of the Peace Precinct 4, Mitch Shamburger, held an inquest and ordered an autopsy, which is expected to be completed tomorrow.

Hays was booked in to the Smith County Jail on February 16 on a theft charge and was being held on a $5,000 bond.

The Texas Rangers are conducting the investigation in Hays’ death per Smith County Sheriff’s Office policy. Additional information will be released after the completion of the autopsy and investigation.