An inmate escaped from the Provo City Jail Saturday afternoon after overpowering a jailer, beating him and leaving him nearly unconscious.

Michael E. Preston, 27, Seattle, was booked into the jail Friday night after police learned during a routine traffic stop that he was wanted in King County, Seattle, for failure to appear in court on a rape charge.Provo Police Chief Swen Nielsen said that about 4:30 p.m. Preston called the jailer over to his cell and told him he had dropped something on the floor. Preston grabbed the jailer and forced him to open the cell door. The jailer was severely beaten, but was assisted by paramedics and was not hospitalized. It was the first escape from the Jail.

Preston walked to a home a couple of blocks away where he asked to use the phone, saying he'd been in an accident. The residents let him make the call. The people told police Preston contacted a friend, who picked him up in a beige or yellowish 1985 Toyota Tercel with a black stripe.

Eight Provo Police officers, three special investigators and Utah Highway Patrol officers conducted a search for him late Saturday.

Preston is described as black, 200 pounds, 5-foot-11-inches tall, and cleanshaven.