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Cops keep tabs on teen in underwear

A sock-footed teenager wearing only underwear ran through Coupeville Tuesday afternoon after escaping from a Law and Justice Center courtroom.

A 17-year-old Oak Harbor boy was pursued by Island County Sheriff Mark Brown, Coupeville Marshal Dave Penrod, several deputies, staff of the juvenile detention center, a corrections deputy and even members of the county Public Works Department.

“It was kind of like a Burt Reynolds movie,” said Assistant County Engineer Randy Brackett, who along with Transportation Planner Mike Morton, drove after the fleeing teenager.

Deputy Rick Norrie and Penrod eventually caught the fleet-footed juvenile on the other side of town, in a field next to the Tyee trailer park.

The teenager appeared in court again Wednesday afternoon, this time in shackles. High courts have ruled that juveniles should not be restrained in court unless there is a “compelling circumstance.” This time, Judge Alan Hancock ruled that there was indeed a compelling circumstance.

Hancock said he was in an unusual position because he was a potential witness against the juvenile suspect if he’s charged with escape. The judge had just sentenced him to 30 days in detention for a probation violation when the kid bolted Tuesday.

“It’s unfortunate,” Court Administrator Mike Merringer said in an interview. “I think it was incredibly impulsive and done without consideration of the consequences.”

Merringer said the boy had been in custody at the juvenile detention facility and was wearing an orange coveralls at the time of his escape. He ran out of the courtroom and out the front door. He lost one of his shoes just inside the door and the other out on the sidewalk.

Brackett said he and Morton happened to be driving by and saw someone in orange being chased by a deputy. They followed and saw the juvenile take off the jail outfit, which they retrieved. The teenager continued running, wearing just boxer shorts, an undershirt and socks.

Merringer said detention staff also ran after him on foot and they were able to keep him under visual surveillance during most of the escape. Brown said a corrections deputy relayed his whereabouts to deputies in cars, who set up perimeters around the town.

Wednesday, Judge Hancock reaffirmed that the boy was sentenced to 30 days in detention for a probation violation. Merringer said the boy was originally convicted of charges that include minor in possession, vehicle prowl and possession of stolen property in the third degree.

He violated his probation, Merringer said, by having a positive urinalysis, breaking house rules by leaving without permission and not following a curfew.

Deputy Prosecutor Peter Simpson said the teenager is under investigation for escape, but he hasn’t been charged yet.

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