Driving on the Ruta 27, ahead of the tolls heading west, if you look to the right while on the bridge over the Virilla river, the back side of the La Reforma prison (in Alajuela) is in view. And looking at the prison complex, one cannot miss the massive rock wall that

Justo Salazar Garcia rolled down the rocky canyon wall in his attempted escape from La Reforma prison. But he didn’t get far, authorities found him where he landed. (Photo José F. Cordero)

And looking at the prison complex, one cannot miss the massive rock wall that extends from the prison to the Virilla river below, a drop of more than 50 meters.

On Saturday, an inmate of the Centro de Atención Integral (CAI) Gerardo Rodríguez, one of the several units making up the La Reforma, decided to take the leap, landing on canyon ledge some 25 meters down.

The inmate, a Nicaraguan identified as Justo Salazar Garcia, took advantage of visitor time, jumped the prison fence and roll down the canyon wall.

However, he didn’t get far, authorities found him injured on the spot where be landed.

This was at 4:00 pm.

“A total of 8 officers of the Penitentiary Police descended into the canyon to extract him, assisted by Cruz Roja (Red Cross) rescue workers and the Bomberos (fire department), explained Pablo Bertozzi, La Reforma’s warden.

Top side after being being rescued from the canyon ledge 25 meters below. (Photo José F. Cordero)

“The inmate never had visitors. On this day, he went over the fence with razor wire,” said Bertozzi.

The event lasted for more than 3 hours when at 7:20 pm Salazar, now top side of the canyon,  was again in custody of the prison police.

Salazar is serving six years and eight months for aggravated robbery. No other details were given, like how much time he had served, how long he had been in the La Reforma and the punishment for his attempted escape.

One lane of the Ruta 27 was closed Saturday afternoon as rescue workers extracted the fugitive from La Reforma prison. (Photo José F. Cordero)

During most of this time, traffic on the Ruta 27 was chaotic with one lane closed.

Bertozzi added that, totally unrelated to the attempted escape by Salazar, prison police were in Guadalupe (on the east side of San Jose) apprehending another prisoner who had escaped months before when he was being treated at the Calderon Guardia hospital. Bertozzi did not give details of that event.



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