Cops: Inmates escape from van stopped at hospital

WEATHERFORD, Okla. (AP) — Eight inmates being transported by a private prison company escaped in their transport van in western Oklahoma on Tuesday when their guards stopped to take at least one inmate into a hospital, a police chief said.

Two prisoners were at large following the Tuesday afternoon escape at Weatherford. Six were rounded up shortly after police put out a call asking for help. A shotgun aboard the van was also recovered.

The inmates were from jails in the western and northern United States and were being transported among agencies in the same regions of the country.

One or two fell ill near Weatherford, which is about an hour west of Oklahoma City on Interstate 40, Weatherford Police Chief Byron Cox said. He didn’t know if the keys were left inside the van or how the inmates were able to drive away.

“Somehow the inmates took control of the vehicle and drove off. I really don’t know how they did it,” Cox said.

Cox said the inmates stopped a mile down the road and that two ran away. Dogs and helicopters were summoned to aid in the search.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol spokeswoman Betsy Randolph said officers recovered a 12-gauge shotgun that had been inside the vehicle.

Prisoner Transportation Services of Nashville, Tenn., acknowledged it was moving the prisoners but had no comment.

No injuries were reported.

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