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DCSO: Escaped jail inmates drank hand sanitizer


(Update: Inmates were mixing sanitizer with water, juice packs)

Two jail work-crew inmates who stole a Deschutes County Sheriffs Office ATV and rammed through a gate to escape the agency’s animal rescue ranch east of Bend had gotten drunk on hand sanitizer before taking off, prompting a manhunt and their eventual capture, officials said Thursday.

As a result, the sheriff’s office said inmates no longer will have direct access in the work crew’s van to the disinfectant, which is not available to inmates at the jail and is used at the ranch because of their work caring for animals. Instead, deputies will keep it secured and provide it as needed, under direct supervision, sheriff’s Sgt. William Bailey told NewsChannel 21.

Shawn McCallister, 34, and Christopher Turre, 30, were two of four inmate workers brought Wednesday to the ranch off Rickard Road for cleanup duty and to help with care and feeding of the animals housed there, Bailey said.

Around 11:25 a.m., the supervising deputy lost sight of the two inmates and began searching for them on the east end of the ranch, Bailey said. The deputy found the entrance gate had been forced open, using the green quad, emblazoned “SHERIFF” on the side, and took off.

As the deputy began alerting law enforcement of the escape, 911 dispatchers got a call reporting two men matching the inmates’ description were on a quad speeding and “doing cookies” in the area of Arnold Market and Rimfire roads, the sergeant said.

While deputies and other police began searching the area, another witness reported seeing them on China Hat Road, heading toward Bend, Bailey said. An Oregon State Police plane on regular patrol nearby headed to the area and was able to find, track and coordinate police on the ground to find the inmates and quad.

Around 12:30 p.m., an OSP trooper took Turre into custody on Forest Service land east of Lava Butte. McCallister was found and taken into custody about 35 minutes later. He had abandoned the quad and ran into a nearby lava field to hide, Bailey said.

An investigation found the two men had drunk hand sanitizer from a container in the jail transport van. Hand sanitizer is usually around 60 percent alcohol, equivalent to 120 proof liquor.

Both men now face new charges of second-degree escape, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and first-degree criminal mischief. McCallister, who drove the ATV, also faces charges of DUII, felony and misdemeanor attempt to elude, reckless driving, reckless endangering and a misdemeanor charge of driving with a suspended license.

Drinking hand sanitizer to get high has become a cause of concern for medical professionals in recent years. An article on an Arizona detox center’s website said it’s also known as “hand sanitripping, a hand sanity fix and Mr. Cleans’ Tears.”

Hand sanitizers contain isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) and is toxic to your central nervous system, as are other chemicals added to them. Side effects can include memory loss, vision problems, diarrhea and damage to internal organs. It also can cause alcohol poisoning (as can beer, wine or liquor), which can lead to coma and death.

Bailey said both men were intoxicated and provided a breath sample to determine their blood alcohol content. He was unaware of any adverse side effects as of Thursday.

On Friday, NewsChannel 21 learned the pair were mixing hand sanitizer with water and juice packs, then drinking it while working.

“This is the first time we’ve seen inmates mixing hand sanitizer,” Bailey said.

“We have utilized our inmate work crews out at the ranch this year a lot because of the horses and the horse seizure,” he said. “We’re very thankful for the work that they’ve put in out there, and they’ve done a lot of great things for the ranch and the animals. But these two individuals made a really poor decision.”

Bailey said the sheriff’s office wants to thank OSP, the Bend, Redmond and Sunriver police departments and the Bureau of Land Management ranger for their help during the search for the two men.

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