A man sentenced in San Luis Obispo County to 17 years in prison for a 2012 robbery escaped from a transport unit Wednesday evening in Illinois.
Joshua Lee Drinnon, 35, was serving his sentence at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego when he was sent to an out-of-state hearing on another robbery conviction and escaped.
Drinnon was being returned from a court hearing in Tennessee when he escaped on foot into an Illinois cornfield.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation deputy press secretary Terry Thornton said Thursday afternoon that it was unclear whether Drinnon has associates or other ties to San Luis Obispo County.
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She said the department is working with law enforcement agencies across the state and in Illinois to follow up on all leads.
On Wednesday night, Drinnon was being transported by a company contracted by the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department in Tennessee to a court proceeding in that state.
On the return trip, the transport stopped at a rest area on Interstate 80 about five miles outside of Princeton, Ill. Drinnon was somehow able to escape his restraints and run past guards.
He was last seen scaling a fence and disappearing into a cornfield, Thornton said. The Princeton County Sheriff’s Office is currently heading the search for Drinnon and working with California authorities in the investigation.
Approximately 100 law enforcement personnel as well as search dogs and air support units are conducting the search around Princeton.
Though it is unlikely Drinnon will make his way to San Luis Obispo County, Thornton said, officials are asking residents to be alert.
Drinnon is described as a white man about 6 feet tall and weighing 240 pounds with blue eyes and brown hair. He was taken into California Department of Corrections custody on Dec. 12, 2012 from San Luis Obispo County following a second-strike conviction for robbery, according to the department.
He was scheduled to be released to parole in May 2025, when he would have been taken back to Tennessee to serve a six-year sentence for another robbery conviction. Anyone with information on Drinnon’s whereabouts is asked to call local law enforcement or 911.