Joel Bruch of Bruch and Bruch Construction in Port Angeles, left, is seen with William Flores of the Olympic Corrections Center Inmate Recovery Team after helping in the safe apprehension of escaped prisoner Mark Vannausdle on Tuesday. (Washington State Department of Corrections)

Joel Bruch of Bruch and Bruch Construction in Port Angeles, left, is seen with William Flores of the Olympic Corrections Center Inmate Recovery Team after helping in the safe apprehension of escaped prisoner Mark Vannausdle on Tuesday. (Washington State Department of Corrections)

Escaped inmate captured with help from Port Angeles resident

Mark David Vannausdle, 60, was missing for about 48 hours

FORKS — A man who escaped from Olympic Corrections Center near Forks over the weekend was apprehended early Tuesday morning with help from a Port Angeles resident who was arriving to a job site in the area.

Mark David Vannausdle was arrested without incident at 7:37 a.m. Tuesday less than 2 miles from the prison. It was help from Port Angeles resident Joel Bruch, of Bruch and Bruch Construction Inc., in Port Angeles, that led to his arrest, said prison spokesperson Darla DePew.

The prison had reached out to all local logging companies in the area to alert them to Vannausdle’s escape, including Bruch and Bruch Construction.

Bruch said he was arriving to a worksite, where the company was working on Department of Natural Resources land, when he spotted Vannausdle walking toward him in the middle of the road.

He recalled thinking “that guy is dumb to be walking right here,” Bruch said. “It was a 60-year-old man in the wilderness with no food for two days. Not a lot to be afraid of.”

After confirming it was Vannausdle that he saw, Bruch turned back toward Olympic Corrections Center to pick up inmate recovery team member William Flores, who he had spoken to just minutes prior.

“We went roaring back up to where I saw him,” Bruch said.

When they got back, Vannausdle was not in the road, but Flores spotted him running up the hill into the brush. When Flores caught up to him, Vannausdle was arrested without incident.

He said Vannausdle said “don’t shoot, don’t shoot” as he put his hands behind his head.

“Honestly, I didn’t expect to see him,” Bruch said. “It was terrible planning at best. Once we spotted him he tried to run a little bit, but he was so wore out he was about done anyway.”

Bruch was presented with an incident response team challenge coin, incident management team challenge coin and a patch to show support for his actions, prison officials said.

“Don’t make me out to be a war hero,” Bruch said.

Vannausdle will receive a medical assessment, then he will be transported to a state correctional facility for an interview, said Janelle Guthrie, spokesperson for the Department of Corrections.

Guthrie said she could not say where he would be transported “as a matter of security.”

Guthrie said the Department of Corrections will conduct an infraction hearing and that if found guilty, Vannausdle could lose his “good time,” delaying his release date.

The Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney’s office could also file a charge for first-degree escape, a Class C felony punishable by up to five years.

Officials had been searching for Vannausdle, 60, since he escaped the minimum security facility at about 7:08 a.m. Sunday while he was on his way from his living unit to the dining facility.

Vannausdle was convicted of first-degree assault and first-degree robbery with firearm enhancement in Pierce County.

He began serving a 240-month sentence Sept. 10, 2002, and had a release date tentatively set for Jan. 1, 2021. Court records show he was convicted in 2004 of trying to escape from the McNeil Island Corrections Center. He was caught after an officer found a ladder he made out of shoelaces and wood scraps.

He was transferred to Olympic Correction Center in June 2017.

Olympic Corrections Center is surrounded by forest for miles and is a minimum security facility that houses about 380 male inmates.

The prison is about 27 miles south of Forks.

“The Department of Corrections’ Inmate Recovery Units and others from the Olympic, Stafford Creek, Clallam Bay and Cedar Creek Corrections Centers worked in close partnership with staff from DOC headquarters and other agencies, including the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the Forks Police Department and the Washington State Patrol,” Corrections said in a statement. “The Department greatly values and gives thanks to its public safety partners.”


Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected]

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Mark David Vannausdle

Mark David Vannausdle

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