Nine teen-age boys from the C.O Bastian Youth Center in Caliente assaulted a night staff worker in their cottage Monday night and ran away from the center. The boys ranged in age from 14-17.

Superintendent Bruce Burgess said about 11:40 p.m. Monday one of the boys distracted the staff worker, “then one of the others punched him and the boys ran away. It was pretty quick. They knock somebody down, and out the door they go.”

The staff member was later treated and released from the emergency room at the Grover C. Dils Hospital.

After being alerted of the escape, Burgess said the Lincoln County Sheriff Department was called in to begin the search. One of the boys was taken back into custody around 1 a.m. Tuesday, after only making it about a half mile away.

Meanwhile, the other eight escapees ran into Caliente where three of them were later captured in a back alley in a residential area.

“The others ran up on the hill near the town water tank,” Burgess said. “We could see them up there, and apparently they just stayed put and spent a cold night.” Temperatures overnight were below freezing.

About 8 a.m. Tuesday, Sheriff’s deputies caught three more. Burgess said one last boy was still on the hill. “We knew where he was all the time. We had seen him up there several times. When given directions to stop, he’d just run away further. So he just stayed there all night. Once it was daylight, we spotting him again, and around noon, he was finally caught without incident.”

NHP troopers helped in the search on Tuesday.

Burgess said he did not know the reason the boys wanted to escape or thought where they could go. “In my 25 years, I have never seen nine at a time try it. Two kids might make a plan, and maybe get a third to come along, but nine at once?” He said the last escape at the center was about 18 months ago.

He said the boys will be placed back in the program at the center, but some may be transferred elsewhere. “They may go to a more secure facility, depends on what’s available.”

The cottage the boys came from is placed on temporary lockdown during the present investigation. “Even those who did not participate, but they may have known what was planned,” he said.

Assigned by the courts to C.O. Bastian, Burgess said these are some of the worst in the state. “All these kids, if they were adults, this would be prison. They’re done with probation and any type of community program. They have been to court many times.”

Burgess thought all the boys will likely have time added to their stay in a correctional facility wherever it might be. “It sets them back on their program. They have to rework parts of it, which adds more time. And any that I might transfer, based on approval from the state justice system, will probably have at least another year added at the next place.”