'Considered dangerous:' 2 inmates escape Columbia Correctional Institution

COLUMBIA COUNTY -- The Portage Police Department says a search is underway for two inmates that escaped from the Columbia Correctional Institution Thursday morning, April 16. The inmates have been identified as 37-year-old James Newman and 46-year-old Thomas Deering.

According to officials, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call at 4:59 a.m. from Columbia Correctional Institution (CCI) reporting that an inmate escaped from the prison.

After deputies were on scene, they discovered two inmates had escaped.

The investigation revealed that James Newman and Thomas Deering had escaped by climbing over two of the security fences. A neighborhood search was immediately conducted.

Law enforcement initially used drones and K9 units to search the area around the prison.

It was quickly learned that the two escaped prisoners had gone to a local hotel and were picked up by the Portage Cab and transported and dropped off in Poynette, Wisconsin.

Initial information is that the escaped inmates had already left the Portage area prior to law enforcement being notified of the escape.

This is an ongoing  investigation.

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office is being assisted by the FBI, US Marshal’s Office, Department of Justice-Division of Criminal Investigations, the Wisconsin State Patrol, Portage Police Department, and the Poynette Police Department. CCI is fully cooperating and assisting with this investigation.