Escapee from Donovan State Prison caught in Lemon Grove - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Escapee from Donovan State Prison caught in Lemon Grove

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LEMON GROVE (CNS) - A convict who allegedly stole a fire engine to escape from Donovan State Prison on New Year's Day was captured late Tuesday morning at an East County trolley depot.

Deputies spotted Thomas Francis Kelly, 51, smoking with a companion at the transit station in the 1700 block of San Altos Place in Lemon Grove shortly before 9:30 a.m., sheriff's Sgt. Chris Steffen said.

Realizing that one of the loitering men matched the escapee's description, the patrol personnel approached him and asked him for his name. Kelly was evasive, but the deputies were able to identify him by a mug shot they were carrying, and he then admitted to his identity, according to Steffen.

Kelly surrendered without incident and was turned over to state parole agents. His cohort, who said he'd just met Kelly, was questioned and released.

Kelly, a minimum-security inmate serving time for a parole violation stemming from a 2008 auto-theft conviction, was reported missing during a head count about 9:30 p.m. Sunday, according to Lt. Patrick Logan, a spokesman for the state corrections system.

Prison guards said Kelley, a member of a prison firefighting crew at the Otay Mesa penitentiary, went missing shortly before sheriff's personnel saw a fire engine being driven erratically through Spring Valley.

The emergency vehicle later was found abandoned outside a 7-Eleven store at Jamacha Road and Elkelton Boulevard, Gilmore said.

Prior to the escape, Kelly had been scheduled for release in December 2013, Logan said.

 

THIS IS A STORY UPDATE. For an earlier version, read below.

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The sheriff's department is reporting that there has been a possible sighting of the inmate who escaped from Donovan State Prison over the weekend.

A woman thought she saw 51-year-old Thomas Kelly at Wind River and Elva in Spring Valley.

Deputies and a helicopter searched the area, but didn't find anything.

This is the latest information. The previous story is below.

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Law enforcement officers Monday sought a prisoner who stole a fire engine to escape from Richard J. Donovan state prison in Otay Mesa on New Year's Day.

Thomas Francis Kelly, 51, worked as a prison firefighter. He was locked up for a parole violation stemming from a 2008 car theft conviction, Lt. Patrick Logan of the state prison system said.

Kelley was in the minimum security section of the prison and scheduled to be released in December 2013, Logan said.

Kelley was reported missing during a head count about 9:30 p.m. Sunday, Logan said.

Prison guards said Kelley went missing about the time sheriff's deputies saw a fire engine being driven inexpertly in Spring Valley, about 10 miles away from the border-close prison. The driver jumped out and ran when a deputy tried to stop it.

Sheriff's Lt. David Gilmore, however, said the fire engine was found unoccupied at a 7-Eleven at Jamacha Road and Elkelton Boulevard in Spring Valley.

Kelley is white, about 5 feet 10 inches and 160 pounds, with brown and eyes.

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