Juvenile Center Blames Teen's Escape on Failure to Follow Procedure

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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) -- A teenager who escaped a Valley juvenile center is back in custody.

The boy escaped Sunday evening from the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center on Technology Drive near Staunton. He was found Monday morning on Toll Gate Road in the Fort Defiance Area.

Timothy Smith, the director at the center, said that this all happened due to a failure to follow procedures. The teen climbed over a wall, presumably in the outside recreation area, and then walked nearly five miles away overnight.

"Porque yo me hace falta mucho la familia mia.[I ran because I missed my family]."

Those are the words the 15-year-old, Mexican-native told Augusta County Sheriff's Deputy Roberto Figueroa, "You're in one country, your family is in another. You're 15 years old and you're running. You've got people with badges coming after you."

The runaway, full of scratches and bruises after running overnight. Part of his journey even took him straight across Interstate 81.

"Cold, tired and hungry. He had been out all night," said Deputy Felicia Glick.

The boy was actually one of two runaways. The other was caught within the hour.

The runaway who was found on Monday is part of a group of Hispanic children who entered the United States without parents.

When they found him on Monday, rather than using force, deputies decided to show kindness and bought the hungry teen a burger.

"He was grateful that he was actually getting something to eat at that point because he was starving by that point," recalled Figueroa. "So it's just one of those situations where he made a bad decision but he's happy it didn't turn out worse and so are we."

Smith said that his facility is very secure and that this is their first breach. He also said that they are proud of their reputation, but think they tarnished it a little with this case.

Furthermore, Smith said that this shouldn't have happened and that they'll work to make sure it doesn't happen again. He added that they do have procedures in place and are now re-training staff to make sure they are followed.