Corrections boss ‘sorry’ after woman is trapped inside jail stairwell for 58 hours

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A woman was trapped in a stairwell in a St. Louis jail for nearly two and a half days, corrections officials said.

St. Louis Corrections Commissioner Dale Glass said the woman “appeared to be OK” after enduring more than 58 hours inside the St. Louis Justice Center — all because she made a wrong turn after getting off a second-floor elevator at 8:17 a.m. on June 5.

She wasn’t discovered until 6:32 p.m. two days later, Glass told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“We’re really sorry that this occurred, and we put precautions in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Glass told the newspaper. “We never had this happen before.”

The woman, who was not identified, saw a nurse at the jail but declined to go to a hospital after she was found.

“Go down the hall to the elevator,” Glass recalled the woman being told. “Go down to the first floor, make a right turn. Walk out of jail; you’re free to go.”

The woman walked through a fifth-floor fire exit door, causing all doors on all floors to be locked, Glass said.

An alarm on the fifth floor had been disabled due to prior maintenance work and was not reactivated afterward. If it had been, employees at the jail would likely have found the woman much sooner, Glass said.

The woman, who apparently did not have a cell phone,  made noise while trapped in the stairwell, but her desperate cries for help were masked by other sounds inside the jail.

Staffers did not search the building’s fire stairs, where she was ultimately spotted looking through a window of a door. She later told staff that she that just wanted to “go home,” Glass said.

A message seeking additional comment from Glass was not immediately returned Wednesday. He said it’s unclear if the woman had underlying health issues.

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