The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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March 18, 2013

Inmate, deputy hurt in flee try

EBENSBURG — A bizarre attempt by a male prisoner to escape deputies of the Cambria County Sheriff’s Department at the courthouse on Monday resulted in injuries to the prisoner and one of the deputies.

The inmate was leaving a hearing in Courtroom 5 on the third floor of the courthouse when he apparently attempted to jump down the stairway opening to the second floor, fell to the second floor then jumped to the first floor.

He was restrained by sheriff’s deputies on the first floor and was taken to Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown for what reportedly was an injury to the shoulder and possibly his head.

The inmate was identified by Cambria County Prison Deputy Warden Christian Smith as Akeem Rhine, 19, of Market Street, Johnstown.

The sheriff’s deputy was not identified, but he reportedly received injuries to his rib cage and was taken to the hospital.

Ebensburg Borough Police Department was called. Sgt. Robert Sapp did not return calls to The Tribune-Democrat seeking comment.

Meanwhile, President Judge Timothy Creany said he has asked Pennsylvania State Police to get involved.

“They will be doing the entire investigation, including the possible use of force,” Creany said.  

In the time leading up to the attempted escape, Rhine had appeared for a hearing in front of Senior Judge F. Joseph Leahey for allegedly violating a protection from abuse order, a hearing that had gone relatively smoothly, Creany said.

“There was no exchange or anything,” Creany said, ruling out a hostile courtroom environment.

The outcome of the hearing was reportedly in Rhine’s favor.

He attempted to speak to the alleged victim, court personnel said, was told not to and placed in handcuffs. He left the courtroom under escort of the deputies to be returned to the Cambria County Prison

Sheriff’s deputies were waiting with Rhine for the elevator to come to the third floor when he broke free and leaped over the railing leading to the second floor.

Deputies grabbed hold of his coat and held for a while, but he slipped out of the coat and fell to the second floor, where he landed on his groin area on the metal stair railing.

At that point, court personnel said, he proceeded to jump to the first floor.

The distance between floors is 15 to 20 feet and the floor is marble.

The prison was called and corrections officers took custody of Rhine at the courthouse, escorting him in the ambulance to the hospital, Smith said.

Sheriff Robert Kolar is out of town and could not be reached for comment regarding the deputy.

Rhine’s condition was not available as of late Monday, but Smith said corrections officers would remain with him as long as he is at the hospital.

“Corrections staff will be with him until he is back here,” Smith said.

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