Sheriff’s deputies recapture patient after violent hospital escape

SAN LEANDRO — Alameda County sheriff’s deputies returned a patient to the county’s psychiatric care facility following an escape attempt that turned violent Thursday, authorities said.

The unidentified patient was at John George Psychiatric Pavilion in San Leandro, the county’s locked inpatient psychiatric ward, when he managed to get out of a building and ran to the nearby Fairmont Hospital campus, Alameda County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly said.

“On a daily basis, we have a lot of people going in and out of John George, so this is kind of unusual,” Kelly said. “Most patients just walk away, they don’t go through all this. They don’t go on a spree.”

The patient found a parked car with a teenager waiting in its passenger seat for a family member to return. Jumping behind the wheel, the patient started the car and tried to drive away.

When the teenager tried to tell him to stop, the patient struck the teen before crashing the car into a garbage truck a couple of hundred feet away.

The patient then jumped out of the car, ran to elderly man at a different and tried to take his keys away. The patient bit the man’s arm, injuring him, but was unable to start the car and fled again toward Interstate 580, Kelly said.

Sheriff’s deputies began setting up a perimeter around the neighborhood and found the patient, who had hopped a fence and tried to hide in a homeless encampment beside I-580 underneath an over-crossing.

But the patient fled again, running into traffic lanes on I-580, where he was struck by a vehicle doing at least 65 mph, Kelly said.

“Somehow, miraculously, he survived that and got back up on his feet,” Kelly said.

The patient then ran across all lanes of westbound and eastbound I-580 to the other side, where he fled through stretches of landscaped shrubbery before deputies found him and took him into custody.

The patient, back in custody, got treatment for several broken bones sustained from his encounter with the vehicle on I-580, and would undergo further evaluation and assessment.

Kelly said the patient will likely face arrest on suspicion of kidnapping, carjacking, assault and resisting arrest.

“Most people, if they wander, we’re able to file a missing-persons report and they’re usually located, we check their welfare and return them to the hospital,” Kelly said. “We don’t know why in this case he decided to get violent and commit crime.”

Contact George Kelly at 408-859-5180.

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