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Update: Prisoner in custody after escaping guards at I-26 rest stop

Rain Smith • Updated Aug 8, 2018 at 7:07 PM

Update, 7 p.m. — Kingsport police report that escapee Rodolfo Lopezchavez Vazquez is now in the custody of the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office. No details were immediately available.

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Previous story:

KINGSPORT — A shackled fugitive en route to Florida escaped from his guards Tuesday night at the Interstate 26 Welcome Center.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Rodolfo Lopezchavez Vazquez, 45, had yet to be located. He was wanted on nonviolent warrants and is not considered to be dangerous.

According to records at the Kingsport Police Department, Vazquez was in the custody of a private transport company, Inmate Services Corporation. The business is operated out of West Memphis, Ark.

Shortly before midnight, a male and female employee called the KPD to the welcome center at Exit 5. They told officers that they were transporting eight prisoners and were on their way to the Carter County Jail to drop off a female.

When they stopped to take a break at the rest area, Vazquez asked to use the restroom. He was reportedly shackled by ankle cuffs connected to wrist restraints, but one wrist was freed so he could go to the bathroom.

According to the transport personnel’s account to the KPD: “At some point, Vazquez was able to leave the bathroom and flee the rest area. He went over a fence at the back of the rest area behind the semi-truck parking side.”

The KPD brought in a K-9 to try to track Vazquez, but the attempt was unsuccessful.

He had reportedly been picked up by the transport company on Tuesday in Louisville, Ky., and was headed to Fort Meyers, Fla.

Vazquez is described as Hispanic, approximately 4 feet 11 inches tall, and 150 pounds. He was last seen wearing a white Adidas T-shirt, gray basketball-type shorts, and gray shoes with a blue Nike swoosh.

His warrants in Florida were for property crimes with no extradition. If Vazquez is located by Kingsport police, they would most likely place a hold on him and contact the transport company for pickup.

Meanwhile, Sullivan County Schools stated that possible sightings of Vazquez spurred lockdowns at Rock Springs Elementary and Sullivan South High School. However, the facilities dismissed Wednesday at their regular times. 

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