Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau, Danny Provencal escape jail by helicopter

8:17 PM, Mar 18, 2013   |    comments
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By Cindy Sherwin

SAINT-JEROME, Quebec (CTV/CNN) - Not even the sky was the limit in a Canadian prison break plot.

Police say two inmates are back in custody after two of their buddies helped them escape by helicopter.

The plan to break out of St. Jerome Prison was audacious to say the least. Two men allegedly pretending to be tourists rented a helicopter from Passport Helico.

But really, "One of our helicopters was hijacked," said owner Yves Le Roux.

Le Roux says the passengers forced the young pilot to fly instead to a jail in St. Jerome, which houses a high security section.

"Sometime in the air they just got some kind of weapon, a gun I've been told, and they aimed a gun to his head. They pointed a gun to his head and they told him to fly on the rooftop of the prison," said Le Roux.

He thinks it must have been well planned because they would have required enough fuel for their mission, and also good flying weather.

A correctional services manager who oversees the prison had few details to provide about what happened next, except to say the inmates were in the yard at the time.

But witnesses describe seeing a James Bond-like maneuver next.

Two inmates, 36-year-old Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau and 33-year-old Danny Provençal, grabbed ropes and were hoisted in the air.

"And they just landed in a field and everybody hopped in the helicopter and they ordered him to take off again and fly to the hotel, Lac Masson," said Le Roux.

To Hotel L'Esterel, where they moved to a getaway car, and a manhunt was underway.

Provincial police say the canine unit and swat team were all put to use.

"In the very beginning we could tell that the suspects were considered armed and very dangerous," said Sgt. Benoit Richard with Quebec Provincial police.

With the help of citizen's tips and phone calls they tracked three men down and captured them at about 7:30 without incident.

"We were following the vehicle inside of which the people were in. They went inside a chalet in chertsy. Then they got out of their vehicle they started shooting at the police officers. We shot back but nobody was injured," said Sgt. Richard.

The fourth man, one of the escaped inmates eventually surrendered. No one was injured.

The pilot was treated for shock, questioned and released.

Along with inmates Hudon-Barbeau and Provençal, 20-year-old Mathieu Steven Marchisio and 24-year-old Yage Beaudoin also faced charges including armed hijacking, breaking and entering and aiming a firearm at police officers. Of course, the inmates have also been charged with escaping from prison.

A dramatic scheme that in the end didn't quite live up to its billing.


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