The youth-camp inmate who escaped from a work detail at the Chelan fire complex and then shot himself in the head as deputies approached had stolen the handgun during a car prowl, the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office said.
The youth-camp inmate who escaped from a work detail at the Chelan complex fire and then shot himself in the head as deputies approached had stolen the handgun during a car prowl, the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office said.
The 16-year-old boy is being treated at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center and is expected to survive.
The teen was among about 20 offenders who had volunteered to help in the firefighting effort under a decades-long partnership between the Naselle Youth Camp and the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), according to a spokesman for the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), which oversees the Pacific County juvenile-detention facility for low-risk offenders.
Chris Wright, of DSHS, said the boy had received firefighting training from the DNR but had not been involved directly in fighting the Chelan fire.
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Most often, juveniles working fire details help with meals, Wright said, but the teen was among a group assigned to support firefighters by clearing out trees and brush and digging trenches.
Deputies were called to the Chelan Falls Fire Camp around 11 p.m. Thursday after the teen reportedly assaulted a staff member and escaped, according to Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett.
Searchers and a tracking dog did not find him that night, Burnett said.
Just before 8 a.m. Saturday, a caller reported seeing him near Chelan Falls, the sheriff’s office said.
When deputies arrived, he ran off carrying a mesh athletic bag.
According to the sheriff’s office, the teen stopped and turned toward the two pursuing deputies. He then removed a .22-caliber revolver from the bag and held it to his head, the sheriff’s office said.
The boy spoke for a short time with deputies and then fired a single shot into the right side of his head, the sheriff’s office said.
He was taken to Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee and later transferred to Harborview Medical Center.
According to the sheriff’s office, the revolver had been stolen during a vehicle prowl the night before.
DSHS declined to release more information about where the teen is from, the crime for which he was convicted or the amount of time he was serving.
Wright, the DSHS spokesman, said boy was in stable condition Monday. The agency did, however, say the 16-year-old will be sent back to a juvenile-detention facility — not necessarily Naselle — after his recovery and release from the hospital. .
The other juvenile offenders who were working at the fire camp have been sent back to Naselle and no other juvenile crews will be returning to the front lines this fire season, said Wright.
Wright said DSHS will determine after the investigation into the escape whether changes to the partnership with DNR ought to be instituted.
“This partnership with DNR has been going on for decades and obviously an incident like this is very rare,” he said. “These kids helped in the aftermath of Oso mudslide, and countless other fires.”