Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

New York State
Department of Correctional Services
Glenn S. Goord, Commissioner

Office of Public Information
[518] 457-8182

For immediate release:

Thursday, July 31, 1997

Commissioner Goord suspends 2 Officers following inmate escape from bus

Commissioner Glenn S. Goord suspended, without pay, two Correction Officers pending an investigation into the escape last night of an inmate being transported by mini-bus between two prisons in the mid-Hudson valley. They were suspended at 3 p.m. after giving statements to DOCS' investigators.

The Department will reserve comment on the circumstances surrounding the escape until its investigation is completed. The names of the suspended Officers will not be released unless or until the investigation results in action against them. No action has been taken in respect to the civilian bus driver.

The bus trip began at 5 p.m. from the Ulster Correctional Facility in Napanoch, which transports inmates among prisons in the mid-Hudson. It made stops to transfer inmates at Eastern Correctional Facility, also in Napanoch, plus Fishkill Correctional Facility in Beacon and Downstate Correctional Facility in Fishkill before arriving at Shawangunk Correctional Facility in Wallkill at approximately 9 p.m. It left Shawangunk about 9:15 p.m. with 14 inmates. It was only when the bus arrived at Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg at about 10:20 p.m. that Officers discovered one inmate had escaped.

That inmate was Eron Seeley, 24, serving a Westchester County sentence of 28½ years to life for murder, reckless endangerment, criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of a controlled substance. He entered the prison system on May 24, 1993, and is not eligible for parole until September of 2020. He boarded the bus at Downstate and was being transported to Sullivan.

Escape procedures were implemented by the Department, which included notifying the Division of State Police and the Ulster County Sheriff's Department of the escape. The Department also deployed four armed roving patrols that retraced the bus' route. At 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday, the Division of State Police took Seeley into custody in the Pennsylvania Town of Milford. For information on the police pursuit and capture of Seeley, contact Major William J. DeBlock, Troop F Commander, at [914] 344-5301.

The 16-passenger, 27-foot long bus was staffed by a civilian bus driver and two Correction Officers. There are four seats in the front of the bus - the driver's, two behind the driver's seat facing straight ahead and one just back of the bus door which faces the center of the bus. Behind those four seats, a wire mesh screen runs from floor-to-ceiling across the width of the bus. The screening is covered by plexiglass, except for a 2½-3-foot wide door in the middle of the screen that is controlled from the front of the bus. It was eight feet from the Officers' seats to the one occupied by Seeley.

The inmates are cuffed with their arms in front of them, to a chain that runs around their waists secured by a padlock in the back. Leg shackles secure inmates in pairs. For safety reasons, such as in the case of an accident or a fire, the shackles are not secured to the floor. That allows inmates, in pairs, to exit the vehicle in an emergency. The windows on the bus can be opened 9¾inches and are 24 inches wide.