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Cook County Jail visitor trapped at jail for more than 30 hours

Cook County Jail in Chicago
Cook County Jail in Chicago
Photo by Scott Paulson

A man came to the Cook County Jail at 26th Street and California on Saturday to visit his son. He remained trapped in the jail’s maximum security visiting area for approximately 30 hours until he was found at approximately 1 a.m. on Monday morning, according to the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday. The man was finally rescued from his ordeal shortly after he broke a sprinkler head where he was confined. The broken sprinkler head alerted the Chicago Fire Department which came to respond to the fire alarm that the broken sprinkler head had set off.

The Cook County Jail Executive Director Cara Smith simply stated that they are tremendously sorry for what the man went through. All told, the man came for his weekly visit to see his son who is in the sheriff department’s custody as the son awaits his trial on a drug case. Reportedly, the suspect in the drug case was moved to a different area in the jail after having been elsewhere in the facility for some 13 months. The different area was said to be a tier for workers of which the visiting father was not familiar.

According to Director Smith, the man was told to proceed ahead and stay to the right to go to the visitor area in the jail. During that journey, he encountered a door that was propped open. After he went passed the door, it shut behind him. It was then that the man was locked in the room where people visit the highest classification, super-maximum security prisoners. Again, he was trapped in that area for more than 30 hours over the weekend, according to ABC News.

Smith defensively states that there was no reason to check on that room because it is not used on weekends. Though the man continually pounded on the cement door, no one could hear him because no prisoners were in the room or anywhere near the area. Ironically, the visiting area was being worked on by contractors who were installing cameras to make the area more secure. Smith credits the man for brilliantly having broken the sprinkler head off which alerted the fire department. That’s when he was found.

The middle-aged man was taken to Rush University Medical Center after he was found. He had several stitches put on a thumb from breaking the sprinkler. The man was given a ride from the hospital back to the jail to get his car. Typical of governmental agencies, Smith said that they are looking at how, why and what went wrong. She puts a portion of the incident’s blame on the contractor who left the door open. Of course, this scenario clearly states that the contractors were not being watched securely during and after their workday had been completed last time they were working in the area.