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Inmate injured after being hit by a car minutes after escaping prison

As of Friday, the inmate, who is serving time for promoting a dangerous drug, remained in the hospital with serious conditions.
Lights on a parked police vehicle flash at the scene of a crime.
Posted at 5:31 PM, Mar 26, 2024

Police in Hawaii are searching for a driver who hit an escaped inmate from Kauai Community Correctional Center in a hit-and-run.

According to the Kauai Police Department, 33-year-old inmate Matthew J. Ornellas Jr. had escaped from prison around 1 a.m. on Friday, and just 10 minutes after escaping, his luck ran out as he was found with serious injuries from being hit by a vehicle.  

"The driver of the vehicle fled the scene prior to the arrival of first responders. Witnesses described the vehicle as dark colored but were unable to identify the make or model. The 33-year-old inmate was transported to the Wilcox Memorial Hospital, where he remains in serious condition," police said in a press release.

Police say that the driver appeared to be traveling south on the highway toward Lihue and failed to stop when they hit Ornellas and continued to make a u-turn toward Kapaʻa.

Ornellas is a minimum-custody inmate and police say he's currently serving time "for promoting a dangerous drug in the third-degree, a class C felony."

Authorities are asking the public that if they have any information on the driver to please call Crime Stoppers Kauai at 808-246-8300.

Scripps News reached out to the Kauai Police Department to obtain any updates or more information on the matter but has yet to hear back.