Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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March 18, 2013

2 inmates escape from Quebec prison in helicopter

SAINT-JEROME, Quebec (AP) — Two Quebec inmates climbed into a hijacked helicopter to make a daring daylight escape from a prison outside Montreal, authorities said Monday. Both were later recaptured.

Police said they believe the pilot was held hostage in the Sunday jail-break and consider him a victim. He was treated for shock in hospital.

Quebec provincial police said early Monday that they had arrested four people about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of the Saint-Jerome prison from which the inmates escaped.

Two of those arrested Sunday were inmates Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau, 36, and Danny Provencal, 33. Hudon-Barbeau was arrested first and police cornered Provencal later in the evening, after establishing a security perimeter around a building where he had barricaded himself.

Quebec Provincial Police Sgt. Benoit Richard said early Monday that Provencal had surrendered peacefully after negotiations continued through the night.

Earlier Sunday, police received a call from the staff at the Saint-Jerome jail, reporting the escape at about 2:20 p.m. local time, Richard said.

The prison's warden told police that Hudon-Barbeau and Provencal had grabbed a rope dropped from the helicopter to make their getaway, Richard said.

Quebec provincial police tracked down the helicopter used in the escape to Mont-Tremblant, about 53 miles (85 kilometers) away from the jail but only the chopper's pilot was still at the scene. Richard called the pilot "an important witness" in the case.

"We were called early in the process of the prison break. We were able to locate the suspects quickly. They ended up in a car and there was a chase and we were able to find them," Quebec Provincial Police spokesman Gregory Gomez Del Prado said. "Three were in custody within five hours. The fourth was in custody around midnight."

Gomez Del Prado said the two inmates escaped from the prison yard.

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