Call to mother cuts short boy's escape from Hickey

September 02, 1994|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,Sun Staff Writer

A 15-year-old boy's brief escape from the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School early Tuesday was thwarted by the person he turned to for help -- his mother.

The boy was being kept in an isolation unit and his bed was bolted to the floor, but he apparently managed to break off part of a leg of the bed. He used it to pry open a window and ran to freedom about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, said Joan S. Stephens, vice president for investor and public relations for Youth Services International Inc.

The company runs Hickey, a reformatory for about 300 juvenile offenders near the Carney area of Baltimore County, under a contract from the state Department of Juvenile Services.

The boy ran down Cub Hill Road to a convenience store, from which he called his mother, asking her to pick him up. But his plan went awry when she called the school instead, Ms. Stephens said.

"She took the proper action and let us know where he was," Ms. Stephens said. "The security people went right up and picked him up."

Youth Services fired a staff member whose job it was to monitor the boy in isolation, Ms. Stephens said. Residents in seclusion are supposed to be checked every 10 minutes, and the last check was at least 15 minutes before the boy escaped, she said. Officials estimate the boy was gone half an hour at most.

Ms. Stephens declined to say where the boy is from or to discuss his record.

Youth Services generally has been praised by state officials for controlling escapes in the year since it took over the school in July 1993. The state terminated its contract with the previous private operator, Rebound Corp. of Denver, after more than 80 escapes from the school in one year.

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