Inmate breaks out of Hawaii jail, becomes victim of hit-and-run just moments later

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An inmate who escaped from a Hawaii jail on Friday became the victim of a serious hit-and-run just moments later, authorities said.

Matthew J. Ornellas Jr. escaped from Kauai Community Correctional Center just after 1 a.m., the Hawaii Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said. Moments later, he was running along Kuhio Highway and was struck by a vehicle.

Correctional officers ultimately found Ornellas about 100 yards from the jail. He was seriously injured in the incident and was subsequently hospitalized.

He remained in serious condition and in police custody Friday.

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Highway, the facility

Matthew J. Ornellas Jr. escaped from Kauai Community Correctional Center just after 1 a.m. Friday, the Hawaii Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said.

Authorities are still searching for the driver of the vehicle, who fled before first responders arrived, Kauai police said.

Rosemarie Bernardo, a spokesperson for the department, said Ornellas escaped after he scaled a fence with razor wire.

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He is serving a sentence for promoting a dangerous drug, according to the Hawaii Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

A photo of buildings in Hawaii

A view of the skyline of the Waikiki neighborhood of Honolulu on December 31, 2014.    (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

John Calma, a public defender, said he was representing Ornellas for a probation violation, although he declined to comment on the alleged escape.

The Kauai Community Correctional Center houses approximately 130 beds and, including providing jail functions, it “offers education, substance abuse treatment, religious counseling, cultural arts, and work furlough programs,” according to its website.

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A warning sign

The Kauai Community Correctional Center houses approximately 130 beds. (Marie Eriel Hobro/For the Washington Post)

On its website, the Hawaii Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation says its facilities “are aging,” which is hindering its ability to “reduce recidivism and promote safer communities.”

“Hawaii’s correctional facilities are aging. This hinders the Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation’s ability to carry out our vision. Ongoing investment is critical,” the website reads.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.