SEARCH FOR PELICAN BAY INMATE CONTINUES

May 01, 2001 11:00 pm
Authorities search the woods near the prison. ().
Authorities search the woods near the prison. ().

Del Norte County Sheriffs deputies and correctional officers from Pelican Bay State Prison on Tuesday were still searching for an inmate who walked away from a minimum security area of the prison the day before.

My patrol deputies are keeping an eye out for him. We have his picture, Del Norte County Sheriff Jim Maready said Tuesday.

Ruben James Puga, 22, was serving time for first-degree robbery, according to the prisons Community Resources Manager Janet Kasbohm.

Puga is described as a white male, 5 feet 10 inches tall, 190 pounds, brown hair, green eyes and a fair complexion.

We are asking that if any citizen out there observes him that they not approach him, but to contact any law enforcement agency, Kasbohm said.

Puga was present during a 4:30 a.m. headcount on Monday and was confirmed absent at 12:20 p.m., she said. Prison officials immediately contacted schools, media and law enforcement agencies in Del Norte and Curry counties.

The Del Norte County Unified School District took precautions upon learning of the escape.

We were contacting parents and made arrangements so no one was walking home, said School District Communication specialist Todd Wels.

Redwood School, a public school closest to the prison was notified of the escape, but because Puga was a level-one security inmate, no formal alerts were made to other schools in the district, said Superintendent Walt Hanline.

The prison assigns minimum security inmates with two sets of clothing; blue jeans and a blue chambray shirt, and a gray sweatshirt and gray sweat pants. Kasbohm said Puga may be wearing some combination of these outfits.

Most prisoners at Pelican Bay are level-four inmates and are held deep inside several layers of security fences and walls. Level-one inmates are sometimes eligible for inclusion with crews that do work outside the prison. This was not the case with Puga.

He was not a work crew inmate. He had an assignment with the prison industry authority to work in our optical lab, Kasbohm said.

Puga is originally from Sacramento County and was sentenced in November to four years. His release date was June 5, 2004. He is a level-one inmate because he did not use a weapon in the robbery, Kasbohm said.