- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 2, 2016

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - A California inmate slipped out of his handcuffs and into the driver’s seat of a van carrying six other prisoners, then tried to drive to freedom Wednesday but instead crashed into a pickup that jailers used to block the facility’s front gate, authorities said.

The inmate was the last to be loaded into the van at the Lerdo Pre-Trial Facility outside Bakersfield, said Ray Pruitt, spokesman for the Kern County Sheriff’s Office.

Slipping from his handcuffs, 23-year-old Ramon Castro ran to the front seat of the running van, locked the door and drove off, said Pruitt, adding that a jailer at first tried blocking the van with his body, but jumped out of its way.

Pruitt said three jailers jumped into a pickup owned by one of them and drove it to block the main gate.

The inmate rammed the rear of the pickup, with the jailers still inside, Pruitt said. There, deputies forced him at gunpoint to the ground, recapturing him.

“He never made it outside the facility past our main gate,” Pruitt said.

The seven inmates were being taken early Wednesday from the jail to the Kern County Superior Court in nearby Delano. The escape attempt sounded an alert across the jail grounds.

Castro was in jail on suspicion of felony resisting arrest. He now could face additional charges that may include felony escape, auto theft and assault with a deadly weapon, Pruitt said, adding that nobody was seriously injured. Castro’s defense attorney, John Dulcich, could not immediately be reached Wednesday.

Everyone in the van was evaluated by medical personnel, California Highway Patrol Officer Robert Rodriguez said. He said the Kern County Sheriff’s Department, which runs the jail, will investigate how the inmate took over the van.


Associated Press writer Christopher Weber in Los Angeles contributed to this story.

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