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Pasco juvenile offender nearly drowns after escape from Gulf and Lake Academy

Sheriff’s deputies survey the scene at Encore RV Park on State Road 54 where an escaped teen was pulled from the water.

KERI WIGINTON | Times

Sheriff’s deputies survey the scene at Encore RV Park on State Road 54 where an escaped teen was pulled from the water.

LUTZ — An 18-year-old man ended up in the hospital Monday morning after he escaped from a youth detention center and nearly drowned in the pond at a nearby RV park.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office did not release the teenager's name, or have information on his condition on Monday afternoon.

According to deputies, the teen escaped from Gulf and Lake Academy, a secure facility for misdemeanor juvenile offenders with mental disabilities on State Road 54, around 10 a.m.

"He pushed by a teacher's aide as she was opening a door," said Gene Magrini, director of administration for Sunshine Youth Services, which oversees the academy.

Trailed by at least two academy staff members, he ran west on SR 54 and then jumped into a lake near the Encore RV Park, a few hundred yards away from the Gulf and Lake Academy.

Officials do not know why he dove into the water.

"My educated guess was that he was trying to figure out his next move," Magrini said.

The teen swam for several minutes.

School authorities went in after him when he failed to come up for air after about 20 seconds underwater.

He was not breathing when he was pulled out of the chest-deep water. He was revived with CPR and flown to a nearby hospital.

He will face charges for attempting to escape, Magrini said.

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at htravis@sptimes.com or (813) 435-7312.

Pasco juvenile offender nearly drowns after escape from Gulf and Lake Academy 03/30/09 [Last modified: Monday, March 30, 2009 8:17pm]
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