The helicopter prison escape of two inmates from Canada's Saint-Jérôme jail by clinging on to a rope that was dropped from a helicopter led to the successful prison escape of 36-year-old Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau and 33-year-old Danny Provencal. At around 2:20 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, Saint-Jérôme jail staff called the Quebec provincial police to report the somewhat embarrassing helicopter prison escape of the two inmates, according to The New York Times on March 17, 2013.
Earlier on Sunday, two men pretending to be tourists hired a helicopter from the Canadian tour company Mont-Tremblant about 130 km (80 miles) northwest of Montreal. While in the air, the two men forced the helicopter pilot at gun point to take a detour and to fly over Saint-Jérôme jail which is about 30 minutes from Montreal.
The two jail inmates came outside when the helicopter arrived. The helicopter hovered over the jail and dropped down a rope down to the two prisoners. The two men climbed up the ropes and the helicopter flew away with the inmates in broad daylight and all in full view of witnesses.
“Slack-jawed prison guards watched as the helicopter then spirited away as two of their prisoners clung on.”
One of the two inmates, 36-year-old Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau, was in jail in connection with an attempted murder investigation. His previous double murder conviction had been reversed on an appeal. The other inmate, 33-year-old Danny Provencal, was serving a seven-year sentence for various offenses, including arson.
Yves Galarneau, the deputy director general of Correctional Services Western Quebec, said that he had never seen a daring helicopter prison escape like this in the 30 years of his career. He also said that because the helicopter prison escape happened so fast, no one had really time to react, or not act fast enough. He admitted that Saint-Jérôme jail did not have security protocol in place to prevent a helicopter from flying in and swooping away with inmates as in this case.
As if the daring helicopter prison escape wasn’t enough of a "James Bond" action, a man saying that he was 36-year-old Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau, called a Montreal radio station later on saying that he had been shot in the calf and that he was an innocent man.
"I don't want to cause any harm to anybody. I am not a killer. I never did anything bad to an innocent. … I know that (the escape) wasn't the best thing to do, but I didn't want to stay in prison anymore. I am ready to die."
The man who spoke to the Montreal radio station also said that the helicopter prison escape was 33-year-old Danny Provencal’s idea and that Danny had made the arrangements for the helicopter with his friends from the outside.
Following the “James Bond” helicopter prison escape was a police manhunt for the fugitives. The helicopter and the pilot were found back in Mont-Tremblant from where it had left. The two helicopter prison escapees were on the run in a white Cadillac Escalade with police following on their tail.
Six hours after the successful helicopter prison escape, police had caught up with the two inmates at a cottage in the town of Chersey which is about 50 minutes north of the Saint-Jérôme jail.
The police were able to arrest three men, including 36-year-old Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau. The second helicopter prison escapee, 33-year-old Danny Provencal, was found a few hours later “holed up inside a sugar shack in the same city.”
All four men involved in the successful helicopter prison escape but unsuccessful getaway will appear in a court in Saint-Jerome on Monday to face charges.
Time to watch more "James Bond" movies; -- this time about successful getaways.