Manhunt Intensifies As Two Prisoners Escape Using Power Tools

Two New York men convicted on multiple murder charges escaped prison on Saturday morning, using power tools to cut through a steel wall, then escaping down tunnels before emerging through a manhole. The men, David Sweat, 34, and Richard Matt, 48, somehow managed to commandeer power tools from an undisclosed prison area and stow them away in their cells. Clinton Correctional Facility, located near the Canadian border, conducts two-hour counts, according to information gathered by CNN.

Sweat was serving life without parole for his role in the 2002 death of a Broome County sheriff’s deputy, while Matt was serving 25 years to life for multiple charges, ranging from kidnapping to murder and robbery. Both prisoners somehow packed their bunks to make correctional officers think they were sleeping, giving them just enough time to drill through the walls of the 170-year-old prison, make their way down a catwalk, and sneak through the drainage system. Officials claim maintenance is done routinely on the facility, meaning the power equipment could’ve been left unattended anywhere inside, the prisoners may have bribed the workers to aid in their escape.

Over 200 law enforcement officials have joined in the manhunt for the prisoners, who should be treated as armed and dangerous. Clinton Correctional Facility currently has a population of 2,689 inmates, making it the largest prison in New York. Governor Cuomo told Reuters that no prison escapes have happened in the history of the facility, leaving one to wonder what failed within the prison’s security. Cuomo was set to attend the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.

The families of Sweat and Matt have been contacted, should the prisoners seek financial help or other assistance, and authorities have established roadblocks around the prison area and Dannemora. With 24 hours of freedom under their belt, the need to capture the escapees grows more desperate. However, with bloodhounds on the ground and choppers circling the area, residents should feel safe enough knowing that law enforcement is diligently trying to end the prisoners’ run.

Experts equate the escape to the hit movie The Shawshank Redemption, although it’s obvious the prisoners planned this over years, not days. Nicknamed “Little Siberia,” Clinton Correctional Facility is 320 miles from New York City in the State’s coldest climate, situated close to the Canadian border and within earshot of Montreal. Because many of the surrounding towns are small and I-87 will be blanketed with law enforcement and border patrol agents, expect the prisoners to have short-lived freedom.

[Photo by Zachary Babble / Flickr]