Two inmates in Quebec escaped a maximum security prison by way of a hijacked helicopter today, in what one witness reportedly described as a “James Bond-like moment”. The prisoners are now the subject of a massive manhunt by Canadian authorities.
The inmates, identified as 36-year old Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau and 34-year-old Danny Provencal, escaped from the detention center around 2:20 pm on Sunday. A helicopter, believed to be hijacked, aided in the escape by lowering a rope for the convicts to climb.
CTV News reporter Derek Conlon reported from the scene at the Saint-Jerome facility, roughly 30 miles northwest of Montreal.
He described how “… two of the inmates came out and appeared to attach themselves to cables that were attached to the helicopter.”
Donlan continued by saying the “helicopter then took off with these two men suspended underneath and it flew away, much to the surprise and astonishment of everyone in the area.”
Canadian authorities later recovered the helicopter in Mont-Tremblant, located nearly 53 miles from the prison. The only person found with the aircraft was the pilot, who was transported to a local hospital for evaluation.
Police have not confirmed what role the pilot may have played in the inmates’ escape but have indicated that he will be questioned as part of the investigation.
However, media sources have reported that the helicopter, owned by Heli-Tremblant, was hijacked by two gunman pretending to be tourists. Once the helicopter was airborne, the hijackers allegedly forced the pilot to fly to Saint-Jerome.
In an odd turn of events, Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau reportedly contacted Montreal radio station 98.5 FM after his daring escape. The inmate allegedly confessed that he would commit suicide before returning to prison. He also claimed that authorities agreed to pay him $3.2 million dollars to become an informant.
“It will end badly. I’ll kill myself,” he reportedly explained to the radio station. “I’m 36 years old, I was told that I would die in prison. It sounds crazy, but I’d rather die than become an informer.”
Hudon-Barbeau also claimed to have received a gunshot wound to the leg during the inmates’ escape. Authorities have reportedly not confirmed or denied whether gunfire was issued from either side during the event.
Both inmates in today’s escape by hijacked helicopter reportedly have substantial criminal records.
[Image via Shutterstock]