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Authorities are on the hunt for an escaped inmate in Otero County, believed to be armed

OTERO COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) - An inmate escaped from the Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center in La Junta late Thursday night while receiving medical attention.

The Otero County Sheriff's Office said 38-year-old Ronald Collier from Gillette, Wyoming, allegedly overpowered a deputy and security officer Thursday night around 11:30 p.m. and ran away from the hospital wearing a black and white striped jumpsuit with handcuffs.

Collier was an inmate at the Bent County Jail. According to the jail roster, he was arrested in February for 1st degree burglary with assault, menacing and armed with a deadly weapon, and 3rd degree assault. He was taken to the Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center for medical attention.

Hospital officials tells KRDO13 Investigates after Collier overpowered the guards, he ran out of the Emergency Room entrance, across the helipad and through the brush behind the hospital, disappearing into a nearby residential neighborhood.

“He did have handcuffs on, but he was able to get away from the guard that was with him," said Andy Flemer, the CEO of the Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center. "The guard went in pursuit of him, out of our emergency department and across our helipad and then up the hill behind the helipad.”

Flemer said Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center treats inmates nearly everyday as it covers Otero, Bent and Crowley Counties, as well as some of east Pueblo County. However, he said he doesn't remember any inmate ever escaping from the hospital.

He said the hospital's protocol for treating inmates is that they must be restrained at all times and at least one law enforcement personnel must be guarding them. He said once Collier escaped they locked down the emergency department and posted their own security officers at both entry points, as per protocol.

"We did a thorough search of all of our campus," Flemer said. "We have a pretty large campus here, and we have some vacant buildings. We thought maybe he could have gone into one of those, so those were all searched as well. But nothing other than the footprints across the helipad."

As of this morning, several law enforcement agencies are still searching for Collier, including Colorado State Patrol. The Otero County Sheriff Shawn Mobley told KRDO13 Investigates they are using drones and a couple of dog teams for the search.

Collier may be armed and dangerous too, according to law enforcement officials.

The Baca County Sheriff's Office says that he may have stolen a 2007 white Dodge Grand Caravan with a Colorado license plate of BFMW09 late Thursday night or early Friday morning. The van had a handgun under the driver seat.

The owner of the van told KRDO13 Investigates he was cleaning out his camper, moving things to the van and the garage. He said he put the handgun in the van with the intention of moving it and locking the car. But he said he accidentally fell asleep before he could do so. When he woke up, the van was gone.

It's unclear if Collier was the one who stole the van. According to the Baca County Sheriff's Office, the van had a full tank of gas and had damage to the passenger side door and a cracked passenger side rearview mirror.

If you see Collier or the white van, call 911 immediately.

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Ty Evans


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