Police have arrested three men and a fourth man remains at large following a daring helicopter escape from a Quebec prison. The breakout had all the markings of a Hollywood blockbuster.
Two men, one with alleged biker gang affiliations, clung to a hijacked helicopter as it lifted off from a Quebec prison complex on Sunday afternoon, touching off a chase by land and air.
Word of the escape reached provincial police at 2:20 on Sunday afternoon. Panicked prison guards at a detention centre in St-Jerome, Que., 60 kilometres northwest of Montreal, had just watched a helicopter spirit away two of their high-security prisoners. Both were reportedly injured in the escape, with one man taking a bullet in the leg.
Provincial police have identified the fugitives as Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau, 36, and Danny Provençal, 33.
As if the breakout lacked audacity, a man identifying himself as Mr. Hudon-Barbeau, began phoning Quebec media outlets TVA and Montreal radio station 98.5 FM. “It will end badly,” he said, according to the radio station’s website. “I’ll kill myself, I’m 36 years old, I was told that I would die in prison.”
The fugitive said he was shot in the leg during the escape.
They directed the pilot to fly north.
Police eventually found the helicopter about 85 kilometres way in Mont-Tremblant, but the fugitives had fled. Only the pilot remained inside. He was taken to an area hospital.
“He’s going to be questioned later on by investigators, later on, within the next couple of hours,” said Police spokesman Sgt. Benoit Richard, adding that it’s too early to say what the pilot’s role was in the escape.
The helicopter was reportedly hijacked earlier in the day from Heli-Tremblant, a tour company in Mont Tremblant. Two men posing as tourists hired the chopper, according to reports.As soon as the helicopter was aloft, the men brandished a gun and ordered the pilot to fly to St-Jerome.
The hijackers hoisted the inmates into the air using cables, according to police.