Corrections inmate caught after fleeing from Winter Park hospital



WINTER PARK, Fla. - An inmate who escaped from the custody of Orange County Corrections' officers and then carjacked an 83-year-old man was quickly recaptured on Thursday, according to investigators.

James Cornell West, 24, attacked an Orange County corrections officer at Winter Park Memorial Hospital, stole his weapon, and then ran across the street and carjacked the man, officials said.

Police said West's legs were shackled, but not his hands.

Police spotted West a few minutes later and pursued him.

Winter Park police said when West hit a dead end on Mechanic Street in Maitland, he ditched the stolen car and tried to run.

West was captured by Winter Park police and Maitland police near Maitland Avenue and U.S. 17-92.

"I don't know if the suspect knew this was a dead end or not for him, but it didn't work out very well for him," said Winter Park Police Lt. Tom Pearson.

According to arrest reports, Winter Park police had originally arrested West on several charges, including armed burglary early Wednesday morning. That day, police said they were able to locate him on a bus by tracking him with a stolen iPad. West resisted, but was taken into custody. He complained about feeling ill and was taken to the hospital.

Now, in addition to burglary, West is also facing charges for armed carjacking, robbery, aggravated assault, battery on a law enforcement officer, fleeing and escape. Had he not surrendered when he did, police said the list would have been longer.

"Fortunately, he left the gun in the car, and when confronted by officers and K-9 surrendered without incident," said Pearson.

WFTV's Melonie Holt asked jail officials how West was able to pull one over on the guard who was watching him.

Jail officials said that's part of the internal investigation that was launched as a result of this escape.

The Orange County Jail told WFTV the officer who was overpowered is a veteran. The officer suffered minor injuries in the incident, officials said. He stated in a report that his clip was not in his weapon. No one was injured in the carjacking.

WFTV checked with jail officials, and they said the last time a suspect escaped from guards at a hospital was on Christmas in 2008.

Jorge Fontanez, a burglary suspect, was getting medical tests at Florida Hospital East when he decided to make a break for it. He was captured an hour later.

There have been no other hospital escapes involving jail guards, extending back into the 1990s.