Escaped inmate from West End prison tackled, captured
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A sign near Milepost 176 at the junction of U.S. highway 101 and the Hoh-Clearwater Mainline warns drivers of an escapee. -- Photo by Lonnie Archibald/for Peninsula Daily News

By Tom Callis
Peninsula Daily News

FORKS — An escaped Olympic Corrections Center inmate who narrowly avoided capture at the Hoh River Resort was returned to custody Wednesday.

James Edward Russell, 39, was arrested at 8 a.m. in the woods near the resort about five hours after he was chased and tackled by an off-duty OCC guard staying at one of its cabins.

Russell escaped from the minimal-security prison 25 miles south of Forks sometime before 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, when a head count came up with him missing, said Deputy Prisons Director Earl Wright.

How he escaped remains unclear and under investigation, Wright said.

From the prison, Russell found his way to the resort 14 miles away, apparently on foot, said Department of Corrections spokeswoman Rowlanda Cawthon.

Resort owner Sally Capelle said Russell, who was still wearing his prison uniform, knocked on the door of a cabin occupied by the guard and asked to use the phone.

“The guy took off, and he [the guard] tackled him down,” she said.

Capelle said Russell was able to get away but lost his shirt in the process.

Cawthon confirmed that an off-duty guard staying at the resort chased and tackled the inmate but didn’t have more details.

Wright said Corrections officers arrested Russell near the resort after responding to a report of a suspicious person in the area.

Capelle described the location as being in “dense brush” about a mile from her cabins.

Cawthon said authorities knew Russell was at the resort before he was chased by the off-duty guard.

“He reportedly contacted someone and told them he was there,” she said.

Russell had fled by the time they arrived, Cawthon said.

Wright said Corrections is looking at whether any lapses in the prison’s security procedures occurred that would have allowed Russell to escape. He knew of none as of Wednesday afternoon.

Those procedures are also being reviewed and may be changed in response to the escape, Wright said.

The prison’s last escape occurred in 2006, he said. That escapee also was apprehended.

Russell was serving a three-year sentence for forgery and theft in Lewis County.

He began his sentence in April.

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Reporter Tom Callis can be reached at 360-417-3532 or at tom.callis@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: June 15. 2011 10:47PM
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