News

Missed email leads to prison escape

A miscommunication between staff during the hectic holiday season helped three men escape from a prison work crew just before New Year’s Eve.

An email advising staff at the Fraser Regional Correctional Centre to shut down crews between Christmas and New Year was not sent to the officer in charge of inmates hired to work at tree farm, near the Alouette Dam.

The mistake resulted in two crews working at the Allco fish hatchery on Dec. 30, a group much larger than the one usually stationed at the site at the end of 248th Street.

The crowd allowed Ryan Plotnikoff, Douglas Erickson and David Traill to slip away unnoticed.

An incident report obtained by The News notes corrections officers only realized they were missing after RCMP called the prison around 12:40 p.m. to report they had received a call from a person who saw three men in prison clothes getting into a car that drove away.

The men who escaped had been tallied an hour earlier during a formal count by corrections officers.

The report, prepared by FRCC assistant deputy warden Joanne Denis, found staff had followed prison procedure while on the work site, but pointed to an email for causing the mix-up.

Denis made three recommendations to prevent another escape:

• Staff who do not work in the fisheries area should conduct regular frisks of site.

• Fisheries work crew should be the only one stationed at the fish hatchery.

• Clear directions should be given to all off-site work crews regarding work assignments.

• Directions regarding departmental functions should be sent from the deputy warden to the assistant deputy warden, then distributed to all departments to eliminate any potential for ambiguity or miscommunication.

All three men who escaped have since been returned to custody.

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