Two Quebec inmates escape by helicopter

The Saint-Jerome jail in Quebec, where to inmates escaped via helicopter. Newspath

Updated 8:50 p.m.

SAINT-JEROME, Quebec Two Quebec inmates climbed up a rope into a hovering helicopter to make a daring daylight escape Sunday from a jail northwest of Montreal, authorities said.

Quebec provincial police said later that they had arrested three people about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of the Saint-Jerome jail from which the inmates escaped. One of those arrested was 36-year-old inmate Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau. Authorities late Sunday located the second inmate and said a security perimeter had been set up around the area where 33-year-old Danny Provencal has been found.

Earlier on Sunday, police received a call from the staff at the Saint-Jerome jail, reporting the escape around 2:20 p.m., said Quebec provincial police Sgt. Benoit Richard.

The jail'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 on Sunday afternoon to Mont-Tremblant, about 53 miles (85 kilometers) away from the jail but only the chopper's pilot was still at the scene. He was taken to a local hospital, Richard said.

"He's going to be questioned later on by investigators, within the next couple of hours," Richard said, adding that it's too early to say what the pilot's role was in the escape.

A Montreal radio station, 98.5 FM, said it received a call Sunday from a man claiming to be Hudon-Barbeau, who said he was "ready to die" as he tried to evade police.

Yves Galarneau, the correctional services manager who oversees the Saint-Jerome jail said he'd never seen anything like the dramatic escape in more than three decades on the job.

Galarneau said there are no security measures in place at the jail to prevent a helicopter from swooping down from above.

"As far as I know, it's a first in Quebec," he told reporters at the scene. "It's exceptional."

The Saint-Jerome jail, located about 37 miles (60 kilometers) northwest of Montreal, experienced a mini-riot by about a dozen prisoners a little over a month ago.

In that incident, police were called in to secure the outside of the jail, which holds about 480 inmates, and the jail's staff used pepper spray to disperse the mob.

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