A convict and a friend who helped him escape prison in a break masterminded by the inmate's mother were caught Sunday when their getaway car slammed into another vehicle, police said.
The driver of the second car was killed.Armed robber Jay Sigler, 31, escaped Saturday from the Everglades Correctional Institution when an accomplice rammed a semi truck through four security fences at the maximum-security prison and came out blasting with a gun.
Sigler and a friend who was recently released from the prison, Christopher Michelson, 33, took off together in a car. The two were spotted Sunday afternoon on Pompano Beach, just outside Fort Lauderdale, about 40 miles away from the prison.
"They were driving normally. The officer was trying to tail them discreetly while he tried to get other units to the scene," said special agent Lew Wilson of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. "At some point they realized they were being tailed."
The men sped up, turned into an alley and onto a busy street. That's where they plowed into a car, killing the 55-year-old driver.
Both men were arrested, too stunned from the impact to run, police said. A sawed-off shotgun and some shells were found in the car.
"It's one of the worst scenarios we could have come up with," Wilson said.
Sigler had been serving his eighth year of a 20-year sentence for armed robbery. Michelson was released earlier this month.
The men hatched the escape plan last Christmas, when Michelson was in prison, Wilson said. Sandra Sigler, the convict's 58-year-old mother, took care of the details, police said.
A stolen big-rig truck driven by John Beaston, 31, plowed through the fences, followed by a stolen yellow car driven by Sigler's mother, police said.
Once the truck entered the prison area, Beaston came out firing, police said. He shot at a guard, who returned a few rounds with a shotgun.
During the shootout, Jay Sigler ran out of the prison and ducked into the waiting car. Beaston also got in and the car sped away. The group drove to a shopping center to swap cars with an accomplice, Kelly Mitchell, 28, police said.
The group rendezvoused with another accomplice and switched cars, police said. Later they stopped at a shopping center and swapped cars with the accomplice Kelly Mitchell, 28, police said.
Authorities caught up with Sandra Sigler, Mitchell and Beaston during the car switch. But Jay Sigler and Michelson escaped in a black Saturn. Records show Sandra Sigler owns a two-door black Saturn.
A prison guard who was injured when she dove for cover was doing fine, officials said.
"I guess we were blessed but my officers did respond appropriately and got the inmates to their respective dormitories," prison Superintendent Joe T. Butler said. "This happened in the daytime and there are a lot of activities in the prison at that time, both recreation and visitation."
When Everglades Correctional was built in 1995 for $35.3 million, it was considered state-of-the-art. High-tech electronics, windows, and even the barbs on the razor wires incorporated the lessons from breakouts of the past. It is now home to more than 1,500 prisoners.
Butler said the breakout did not raise undue security concerns.
"I think anyone would think this was a very unusual situation," Butler said. "How often do you hear about a semi truck . . . crashing through your security system."