An inmate from the Tooele County Detention Center escaped from a work detail last week but was caught over the weekend.
Tooele County Sheriff Frank Park said Nicholas Anderson, 41, was on a work detail at Deseret Peak Complex last Tuesday when he rode a work ATV to the complex’s fence, jumped over the fence, got in a black SUV waiting in the area and drove away.
Park said the department’s investigative division found a cell phone stashed at the complex that Anderson had evidently used to communicate with his accomplices.
Anderson was found in a Salt Lake City residence last week, Park said.
Lt. Ron Johnson of the Tooele County Sheriff’s Office said the department received a tip Anderson had fled to Salt Lake, and confirmed the tip with a confidential informant. With that information, he said, detectives and the Tooele County Drug Task Force conducted a surveillance operation to verify Anderson’s whereabouts and bring him back Thursday night.
“We were able to observe a person pick him up and then take him to a gas station, where we were able to pick him up without incident. He gave up right away,” Johnson said.
The identities of Anderson’s accomplices are still under investigation, he said.
Anderson’s break for freedom is the first since the jail moved to its current facility in 2012.
“He’s been the first since we’ve been out here,” said Lt. Dave Harrison with the Tooele County Detention Center. “He’s been the first for a long time.”
The most notable escape before that was Jason Catmull, who walked away from a work detail at the Tooele Senior Center in May 2011 and was caught two days later — after committing several burglaries in Erda.
Anderson was a little more than 100 days into a 365-day sentence for felony DUI from February, and had earned roughly 25 days off for his work as a trustee, Harrison said.
On Thursday, Anderson was charged with escape from official custody, a third-degree felony.
Harrison said in light of Anderson’s escape, the staff in charge of watching inmate trustees on work details at Deseret Peak will receive additional training. Anderson, like all trustees, was carefully screened to make sure he did not have a violent past, he said.
“We’re doing additional training to all of the staff down at Deseret Peak,” he said. “We’ve got that scheduled and we’re definitely taking a look at our procedures of who we allow to go out. Right now there’s no violent offenders. Anyone we think would pose a risk to the general public doesn’t go out there. Whenever anything like this happens, we always review what we do to see what improvements we can do to make it better.”
Park said while policies have always been in place to try to deter or prevent escape — and are updated when an escape reveals a hole in the plan — no set of rules can anticipate every eventuality.
“Now and again you have someone who does something totally stupid,” he said. “You just never know. Even as diligently as these people watch them, if there’s a will, there’s a way.”
Attempts to reach authorities regarding reports of an escaped inmate last week were unsuccessful.