Hawkins Co. man arrested on drug charges

Hawkins Co. man arrested on drug charges after playing chicken with train

Nathan Lepsch (source: Hawkins County Jail) Nathan Lepsch (source: Hawkins County Jail)
Thomas Lepsch (source: Hawkins County Jail) Thomas Lepsch (source: Hawkins County Jail)

SURGOINSVILLE (WATE) - A Hawkins County man was arrested early Friday morning on drug charges after attempting to play a game of chicken with a train.

Nathan Lepsch, 21, is charged with disorderly conduct, possession of Schedule VI (marijuana), possession of Schedule I (hallucinogenic substances), felony possession of drug paraphernalia, and maintaining a dwelling where narcotics are housed or sold.

Sheriff's deputies say they were called out to a possible accident involving a train and a pedestrian around 11:51 p.m. Thursday near the crossing with Vine Street in Surgoinsville.

The train's crew said they saw a man standing on the track showing an obscene gesture and then trying to jump out of the way at the last second. The crew did not believe the man made it out of the way in time.

Deputies searched the area and found human tracks in the snow that led to a nearby mobile home.

Officers went to the trailer to make sure no one there had been hit by the train and needed medical attention.

A residents of the home, Nathan Lepsch, was found to be acting erratic and disorderly, but had no signs of injury.

When officers attempted to make sure no one else was in the home that might have been injured, Nathan Lepsch became combative and had to be restrained.

It was during this search that deputies discovered one of the bedrooms had been converted into a dark room and contained a "starter" marijuana plant and two jars containing an unknown grain growing mold.

Lepsch said all he knew was the jars contained "rye seeds" but offered no explanation what they were for. He then gave officers permission to search the rest of the home.

Deputies then found a box containing items commonly used for growing marijuana indoors as well as a Tennessee Department of Agriculture Commercial Certification card, which led officers to believe Lepsch was well versed in agriculture.

While investigating the jars, deputies found them to be consistent with a "grow vault" that could result in the manufacture of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, or LSD.

The "vaults" were sent to the TBI for analysis.

Another man, Thomas Lepsch, 57, was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Deputies say he arrived at the home during the search, ignoring officers' orders that he stay in his vehicle.

Deputies say when they tried to restrain him and keep him from waking toward the home, Lepsch resisted and became combative.

Officers took him to the ground and arrested him.

Both men are being held in the Hawkins County Jail.

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