Watch CBS News

Dutch Scientists Claim To Have Solved Mystery Of 1962 Alcatraz Prisoner Escape

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- Dutch scientists claim to have solved the mystery of the infamous escape from Alcatraz, and they say the Hollywood version got it all wrong.

"I saw the movie and I knew the story," said Fedor Baart of Detares.

At a conference in San Francisco Tuesday, the scientists will reveal that the three prisoners could have absolutely made it across San Francisco Bay alive.

"It's very plausible they made landfall," Rolf Hut of the Delft University of Technology told KPIX 5's Mark Kelly.

To figure out what happened on that night in 1962, researchers needed two key pieces of info from Alcatraz – the tides that night, and from where the men left the island.

Using tidal records, the researchers discovered timing was crucial for a successful escape.

"It's really sensitive to timing, which time they entered the water," Hut said.

Paddling northward between 11 p.m. and midnight the men would have had a good shot at reaching land, according to the researchers.  That's where they say the Hollywood version of the escape got it wrong.  They say the prisoners couldn't have reached Angel Island.

"They ended up at the north shore of the Golden Gate Bridge, near Horseshoe Bay," Hut said.

As for what the scientists are hoping to get out of Tuesday's big reveal?

"I'm hoping there will be three old men waiting at the presentation," joked Baart.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.