Quebec Provincial Police have confirmed that three prisoners used a helicopter to escape from the Orsainville detention center in Quebec City. The breakout occurred during the evening hours of June 7, launching a manhunt that covers a wide swath of eastern Canada and the United States.
“A helicopter touched down briefly in the courtyard before taking off with the three prisoners,” explained Ann Mathieu, a police spokesperson. She added that the escapees are considered extremely dangerous.
As daring as the escape was, it was not the first time in recent history that a helicopter has been used to free (or attempt to free) prisoners from a correctional facility. In March 2013, a pilot was forced to hover a Robinson R44 above a prison northwest of Montreal, allowing two inmates to clamber aboard by rope and fly away. And in February 2013, police in Athens, Greece, exchanged automatic weapons fire with a group of gunmen in a helicopter as they used a grappling hook to try to pull down a security fence. When that failed, they lowered the rope to the prisoner. The escape was thwarted when sharpshooters killed the inmate and the aircraft was forced down.
Since 1971, there have been 43 well-documented attempts worldwide to free prisoners using helicopters. Approximately 31 of those were successful.
Escaped inmates: from left, Denis Lefebvre, Serge Pomerleau and Yves Denis. Photo courtesy Quebec Provincial Police.
Related: Police Helicopter News