Escaped inmate dies after being struck by hit-and-run driver

A man who escaped from a jail in Hawaii last week has died after he was struck by a hit-and-run driver.

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Officials said that in the early morning hours of March 22, 33-year-old Matthew J. Ornellas scaled the Kaua’i Community Correctional Center’s outer perimeter fence and escaped. He had been serving time as a minimum custody inmate for third-degree promoting a dangerous drug, authorities said.

Correctional officers chased Ornellas but lost him when he took a path through dense brush. A short while later, officers said they heard “a loud sound from the roadway.”

Authorities found Ornellas on Kūhiō Highway, approximately 100 yards northeast of the facility, less than 10 minutes after his escape. He had serious injuries from what appeared to be a hit-and-run, officials said.

An ambulance took Ornellas to Wilcox Medical Center, where he died early Thursday.

In a statement released Thursday, Hawaii Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Director Tommy Johnson shared the department’s “heartfelt condolences to Ornellas’ family and loved ones.”

Authorities said the vehicle that struck Ornellas was dark in color and made a U-turn after hitting himbefore accelerating toward Kapa’a. No arrests have yet been made.

Officials continue to investigate the hit-and-run and Ornellas’s escape.