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Woman beaten in teen escape

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A 62-year-old woman working as an attendant at the Colorado West Youth Program was beaten by two teenage boys early Saturday as they escaped the center.

The boys were apprehended Monday afternoon in Clifton.

The boys, ages 14 and 16, were in the custody of the Colorado Division of Youth Corrections, and were being held by Colorado West Regional Mental Health Center at its Youth Program facility at 6916 Highway 82 between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale. The boys’ names were not released.



Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said the two teens threw a jacket over the woman’s head, punched her in the face and escaped.

The woman, who worked at the center as an overnight attendant to watch the youth offenders, suffered three broken bones in her face, Vallario said.



According to Dr. Tom Updike, assistant executive director of Colorado West, the two “juvenile delinquents” waited until almost everyone was asleep at the facility. At 2:30 a.m. Saturday, they allegedly assaulted the woman, grabbed her keys and flashlight, and stole a Colorado West van.

“The ward is locked, but the rooms weren’t. It’s not a secure facility,” Updike said. “We did have appropriate and adequate staffing.”

Ron Richardson, director of the Division of Youth Corrections’ western region office in Grand Junction, said DYC case workers guessed the boys might be headed to the Clifton area, where one of the boys has relatives. The case workers found the boys in Clifton and placed them under surveillance on Monday.

“They located the van and the juveniles as they turned a corner,” Richardson said. “The Mesa County Sheriff’s office assisted and took them into custody.”

The boys were recaptured without incident at 4:15 p.m. Monday in Clifton and taken to the Grand Mesa Youth Services Center in Grand Junction, a maximum-security detention facility.

The teenage boys likely will be charged with escape, second-degree assault, aggravated motor vehicle theft and theft, Vallario said.

The state-run Division of Youth Corrections has housed some of its convicted youth offenders at the Colorado West for the past 10 or 12 years, Richardson said.

“It’s what we consider `staff secure’ or medium security,” he said of the 17-bed detention quarters. “It’s a step-down facility.”

He also said this type of escape is “extremely rare” because the boys could have run away from the facility with relative ease during the day.

“It’s typically a walk-away situation,” Richardson said. “But their intent was to take the vehicle.”

Updike said the incident has prompted he and other officials at Colorado West to take a second look at the center’s contract with the Department of Youth Services.

“It seems with the DYC that the children are becoming more and more challenging,” Updike said.

Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511

gmasse@postindependent.com


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