Prisoner escapes from Manhattan hospital by scaling down building

Janice Yu Image
Thursday, August 10, 2023
Prisoner escapes from Manhattan hospital by scaling down building
Officials say Yenchun Chen scaled down the side of the hospital building using a makeshift rope made out of towels. Janice Yu has details.

GRAMMERCY PARK, Manhattan (WABC) -- A prisoner who created a makeshift rope to escape a hospital building in Gramercy Park is still missing after it was initially believed he had been captured.

Officials say corrections officers brought 44-year-old Yenchun Chen to Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital last Friday because of a cardiac issue.

On Wednesday afternoon, he apparently decided to make his escape by using towels to repel down the side of the building.

Authorities say Chen asked for several towels to take a shower Wednesday, but when officers went to check on him in the shower, they noticed the window was open and he was nowhere to be found.

They soon realized Chen had scaled down the side of the hospital building and onto the second floor, where he landed on the air conditioning unit.

"When I heard a prisoner escaped through a window, I was just kind of shocked when it happened," one nurse said.

Officials say he allegedly used a ladder to get down to the street and proceeded to hop in a cab.

Police said Thursday afternoon that Chen had been captured in New Jersey, but later said the man in custody was not in fact Chen.

Chen was arrested last week for criminal possession of a controlled substance, police said. He is described as 6'3 and about 250 pounds, with tattoos on his left arm and hand.

There is now a full investigation internally underway into how Chen escaped, including why he was being held at the hospital instead of a hospital ward at a facility like Bellevue Hospital.


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