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Canadian Prisoners Escape via Helicopter

by John E. Dannenberg

Two Canadian prisoners, Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau and Danny Provençal, escaped from a St. Jérôme, Quebec correctional facility on March 17, 2013 when a helicopter hovered over the yard and lowered a rope for them. They clambered up, with one holding onto the undercarriage and the other hanging upside down from the rope as they flew off, according to witnesses. Their freedom was short-lived, however, as they were captured later the same day along with two accomplices who had commandeered the helicopter.

Hudon-Barbeau, 36, had been cleared of a double murder on appeal but was returned to prison in connection with an attempted murder investigation. In September 2011, Provençal, 33, began serving seven years and 10 months for arson, breaking and entering, forcible confinement, unauthorized possession of a firearm, uttering threats to cause harm and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle. Both were allegedly affiliated with the Hells Angels biker gang.

Following the break-out, Hudon-Barbeau called a reporter at 98.5 FM in Montreal, reportedly saying, "I don't want to cause any harm to anybody. I am not a killer. I never did anything bad to an innocent. I know that [the escape] wasn't the best thing to do, but I didn't want to stay in prison anymore. I am ready to die." Hudon-Barbeau, Provençal and their two accomplices were captured a short time later after exchanging gunfire with police officers at a rural cabin.

The helicopter had been hijacked from a sightseeing company in Mont-Tremblant by two men posing as tourists. Once it was airborne, the men pulled a gun on the pilot and ordered him to fly northwest to St. Jérôme. The identities of the two hijackers have not been released; the helicopter pilot, who was not harmed, was treated for shock.

Sources: CNN,, New York Times

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