Updated: March 18, 2013 9:00AM
SAINT-JEROME, Quebec — Two Quebec inmates climbed up a rope into a hovering helicopter to make a daring daylight escape Sunday from a jail northwest of Montreal, authorities said.
Quebec provincial police said later Sunday that they had arrested three people about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of the Saint-Jerome jail from which the two inmates escaped. Police said an operation was under way in Chertsey, Quebec, but did not specify who was arrested.
Earlier Sunday, police received a call from the staff at the Saint-Jerome jail, reporting the escape around 2:20 p.m., said Quebec provincial police Sgt. Benoit Richard.
The jail’s warden told police that two inmates, identified as 36-year-old Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau and 33-year-old Danny Provencal, had grabbed a rope dropped from the helicopter to make their getaway, Richard said.
Quebec provincial police tracked down the helicopter used in the escape on Sunday afternoon to Mont-Tremblant, about 53 miles (85 kilometers) away from the jail but only the chopper’s pilot was still at the scene. The pilot was taken to a local hospital, Richard said.
“He’s going to be questioned later on by investigators, within the next couple of hours,” Richard said, adding that it’s too early to say what the pilot’s role was in the escape.
A Montreal radio station, 98.5 FM, said it received a call Sunday from a man claiming to be Hudon-Barbeau, who said he was “ready to die” as he tried to evade police.
The Saint-Jerome jail, located about 37 miles (60 kilometers) northwest of Montreal, experienced a mini-riot by about a dozen prisoners a little over a month ago.
In that incident, police were called in to secure the outside of the jail, which holds about 480 inmates, and the jail’s staff used pepper spray to disperse the mob.