Inmate attempts escape through ceiling

A man in the segregation unit of Whitehorse Correctional Centre made a failed attempt to escape by climbing up to the ceiling through an electrical shaft on Wednesday evening.

A man in the segregation unit of Whitehorse Correctional Centre made a failed attempt to escape by climbing up to the ceiling through an electrical shaft on Wednesday evening. After more than three hours, he was talked down by prison staff.

The inmate ripped a phone from the wall of the common area of the segregation unit during his allotted exercise time at around 4:30 p.m., said Tricia Ratel, director of corrections. He used the phone to smash at the room’s cameras, doors and shatter-proof windows.

“He had himself a little damage-fest up there,” she said.

The inmate then used the phone to break the lock on a closet-sized door of an electrical shaft and climbed towards the pipes and plumbing duct of the ceiling directly above his unit.

Corrections officers discharged a flash-bang grenade “to startle him,” intending to apprehend him, said Shari-Lynn MacLellan, a justice spokesperson. At that point, he already made his way up the shaft.

The prison went on “lockdown” mode, with all inmates sent to their personal cells with their doors locked, she said. One unit’s inmates were allowed in the common area because smoke from the flash-bang seeped in and the staff did not want them affected.

Only one other inmate was in the segregation unit’s common area, where the inmate was smashing things. “That person was removed so that they were out of harm’s way,” MacLellan said.

A correctional officer talked him out of the ceiling around 8 p.m. “They sort of made a plan for what happened and that he would be returned to his cell, so it went without incident,” she said.

“He was a lot calmer when he came back down,” she added. No one was hurt, but the inmate had a few scrapes from his climb, MacLellan said.

The inmate would not have been able to escape from the ceiling, said Ratel. “He was in a jail within the jail,” she said. Although he was damaging property, the inmate wasn’t hurting anybody nor himself, so correctional officers were able to plan their approach.

“He never made it outside, not even close,” Ratel added.

Still, during the incident, RCMP sent 10 officers to form a perimeter outside the prison.

The inmate’s identify and sentence are not being released. Nor would officials say how long the inmate had been in segregation.

Officials have since reviewed the incident to “make sure things went as smoothly as possible,” said MacLellan.

“One of the things we’ll be doing is putting sturdier locks in,” Ratel said.

The new jail, which cost $70 million to build, consists of three living units for men, one for women and one segregation unit that currently holds two men in separate cells.

It replaced an older jail, which was built in 1967. Inmates were moved into the prison in March 2012.

Contact Krystle Alarcon at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

During our recent conversation, John Nicholson showed me snapshots of his time working on the Yukon riverboats 70 years ago. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: Yukon man relives the riverboat days after seven decades

John Nicholson took summer work on Yukon steamers in the 1950s

A city map shows the property at 107 Range Road. The zoning is now in place for developers to proceed with plans for a Dairy Queen drive-thru. If plans proceed on schedule the new restaurant is anticipated to open in October. (Cyrstal Schick/Yukon News)
October opening eyed for Dairy Queen

Will depend on everything going according to plan

NDP candidate Annie Blake, left, and Liberal incumbent Pauline Frost. (Submitted photos)
Official recount confirms tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin riding

Both candidates Pauline Frost and Annie Blake are still standing with 78 votes each

Artist’s rendering of a Dairy Queen drive-thru. At its April 13 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved a zoning change to allow a drive-thru at 107 Range Road. Developers sought the change to build a Dairy Queen there. (Submitted)
Drive-thru approved by Whitehorse city council at 107 Range Road

Rezoning could pave the way for a Dairy Queen


Wyatt’s World for April 14, 2021.… Continue reading

Joel Krahn/ Hikers traverse the Chilkoot Trail in September 2015. Alaska side.
The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer

The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer Parks… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at city council matters for the week of April 12

École Whitehorse Elementary Grade 7 students Yumi Traynor and Oscar Wolosewich participated in the Civix Student Vote in Whitehorse on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Yukon Student Vote chooses Yukon Party government; NDP take popular vote

The initiative is organized by national non-profit CIVIX

Yvonne Clarke is the newly elected Yukon Party MLA for Porter Creek Centre. (Submitted/Yukon Party)
Yvonne Clarke elected as first Filipina MLA in the Yukon Legislative Assembly

Clarke beat incumbent Liberal Paolo Gallina in Porter Creek Centre

Emily Tredger at NDP election night headquarters after winning the Whitehorse Centre riding. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Emily Tredger takes Whitehorse Centre for NDP

MLA-elect ready to get to work in new role

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Two new cases of COVID-19 variant identified in territory

“If variants were to get out of control in the Yukon, the impact could be serious.”

Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

Most Read