The Norman Transcript

September 27, 2013

Oklahoma prisoner reported the escape

By Justin Juozapavicius
The Associated Press

TULSA — Prisoner Joshua Silverman passed up a taste of freedom this week and called the police instead.

Silverman could have fled with two other inmates who stole the unattended transport van he was riding in, but he dialed 911 and alerted authorities about the escape.

“Uh, yes, ma’am, you’re probably not going to believe this, but I’m a prisoner in a van, and I’m here with a couple of these other cats,” Silverman politely explained to the 911 operator Tuesday. “A couple of the guys that were in the van jacked the van ... at the hospital.”

Guards from a private prison transport company had stopped in Weatherford to deliver some ill inmates to a hospital. They left eight other prisoners in the van unsupervised.

With the guards gone, inmates Lester Burns and Michael Coleman kicked out a partition in the van and moved up front, where the keys remained and the motor was still running so the prisoners could have air conditioning. Burns and Coleman drove the van for about a mile before ditching it and fleeing on foot.

Silverman was reluctant to escape. Still shackled, he somehow managed to get out of the van and dialed 911 with a cellphone police believe he might have found in the vehicle.

During the audio clip that was released Thursday, Silverman struggled to explain the van’s whereabouts. The prisoner volunteered to walk to a nearby road to flag down an officer.

“We’re in Oklahoma somewhere. I don’t know because we’re not on a road and I’m not from here,” Silverman told the dispatcher. “I just don’t want to get shot by no cops or nothing.”

The dispatcher asked Silverman where the rest of the prisoners were. Five other inmates remained beside him.

“We’re all in the van,” he said. “Two of the dudes took off.” Silverman remained on the phone until a patrolman arrived on the scene.

Silverman was in custody on drug-related charges and was being taken to Wisconsin that day, Weatherford Assistant Police Chief Louis Flowers said Thursday.