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Successful escape from Alcatraz

Alcatraz is an island in the San Francisco Bay, where until 1963 there was a well-known prison. It contained Al Capone, Machine-gunner Kelly and other guys with a very cool character. It was almost impossible to escape from here, primarily because of the ice water of the bay and 10 species of sharks inhabiting it.

Officially it is believed that throughout the history of the American prison Alcatraz from there no one managed to escape. The prison is located on the island, is two kilometers from the mainland and is well guarded. From 1934 to 1963 in Alcatraz there were 14 attempts to escape, most fugitives were caught or shot. But in this series there is one exception, the escape of Frank Lee Morris and the Englin brothers, who became the only successful in the history of the prison.

When Frank came to Alcatraz, he was 33 years old. His childhood he spent in shelters and from his youth had problems with the law. In Alcatraz, Frank met the old friends of the brothers John and Clarence Englin. They were together in prison in Atlanta. In Alcatraz, the brothers were sent for a bank robbery. Once in jail, Frank began to look for options for escape.

The escape plan was such, the friends had to get to the outer wall and leave the damned island on the inflatable raft. The raft was decided to be made of rubber raincoats, which the prison administration issued to prisoners. The raft took 50 raincoats, some of them were donated by other prisoners, and some had to be stolen.

Next to the chambers of the conspirators, a technical corridor passed to enter, it was necessary to dig through the wall of the cell. For digging holes in the wall, the motor was adapted from the vacuum cleaner to which the steel spoon was screwed. The works were conducted at the “musical hour”, so the prison guards did not hear any suspicious sounds behind the general noise. During the day, the tunnel was masked with a false wall.
Finally, everything was ready. June 11, 1962 at 21:30 friends left their cells. To lull the guards to guard them, they put artificial heads made of papier-mâché on the pillows and covered them with blankets. The heads were very similar to the real ones, even their hair was natural, they were collected in a prison hair salon. The fugitives climbed the pipes to the roof of the prison and descended the outer wall.

After that, they went down to the shore, where they found a blind spot for searchlights, inflated the raft with the help of a converted accordion, put on self-made life jackets from waterproof raincoats and swam off the island.

In the morning, the alarm was announced in prison, the search began, but the fugitives were never found. From Alcatraz, no one was leaving alive, so the authorities announced that Frank and the Englin brothers were drowning.
The FBI, the US marshals and the police staged a colossal search operation, but found only a blown raft, scraps of lifejackets and a wallet from one of the Englins with records of friends and relatives. In the end, they decided that all three died when trying to cross the strait. Until recently, it was officially believed that no one could escape from Alcatraz.

In 1979, the film “Escape From Alcatraz” was shot with Clint Eastwood, who played Frank Morris.

Journalists and experts continued to take an interest in this case, and even reached an attempt to simulate the weather and current in the strait on the night of the escape. It turned out that between midnight and in the morning the conditions were quite favorable and the raft could reach another shore. In 2012, the US Department of Justice, just in case, asked experts to simulate on a computer, how could escapeees look like in 50 years.

The case of the escape of prisoners from Alcatraz prison was resumed many years after the closure. In 2013, the FBI received a letter from a man who signed as John Englin – one of three criminals who tried to escape from the island in 1962 and were considered dead. Perhaps, for this famous trio, about which the film was shot with Clint Eastwood, it all ended not as it was written in the official conclusion.


In this case, the relatives of Englin and Morris repeatedly stated that the runaways called and sent them postcards. Sister John and Clarence Englinov all his life claimed that they managed to escape to Mexico and hide. But the FBI was skeptical about her stories – until 2013, when the bureau received a letter written by hand and signed by John Englin, reports The Telegraph.

“My name is John Englin. I escaped from Alcatraz in June 1962 with my brother Clarence and Frank Morris. I’m 83 years old, and I’m in bad shape. I have cancer. Yes, we all managed to escape that night, but we barely survived! Frank died in October 2005. His grave is in Alexandria, on the stove is another name. My brother died in 2011. If you announce on television that you promise to send me to prison for no more than a year and give me treatment, I will write to you again and will accurately indicate where I am. This is not a joke, everything is real and honest. ”


The FBI waited five years before the letter was published, as the agents had reasonable doubts about its authenticity. However, the case was again opened, now the authorities are officially looking for John Englin. However, most likely, he had already died, if he really had cancer and for five years did not receive any help.

Alcatraz, the “Cormorant island” in Spanish, was built in the 1950s as a military fortress. At the fortress was a prison, where first they kept deserters from the army of the North and war criminals. In 1933, the island was transferred to the Ministry of Justice. Al Capone was sitting here, in particular, and he even managed to get out – but only after the end of the term. This is just now a film with Tom Hardy.


In all 36 people tried to escape from prison, 23 were caught, and the rest were either shot at escape or drowned. At least, it was thought of earlier. In 1963, less than a year after the escape of John Englin, the prison was closed. Now there are excursions from San Francisco.

By the way, you can escape from Alcatraz in our time

Escape from Alcatraz – the race for triathletes is cult and coveted. Despite the fact that the registration fee is high (750 USD), among the thousands of potential participants it is necessary to hold a lottery, in which 1500 slots of 2000 are played. The remaining 500 are given to PRO athletes, charity participants and athletes qualifying through other starts.
You can also qualify through one of the other races of the Escape Triathlon series. Well, no one canceled the entry through sponsors and charitable organizations.

Original distance – 2.4 km of swimming, 29 km of bicycle, 13 km of running. In this case, after a massive jump from the ferry you have to swim at a water temperature of 10 to 16 degrees, and go and run – along the steep hills of San Francisco.

Another feature of the running stage – the famous sand ladder (Sand Ladder) with 400 steps. Many people climb it at a rapid pace, holding on to the rope rails, but professionals are fleeing here. For the stairs, even a separate set-up was invented.

It is clear that the priority for organizers is the safety of athletes. The swimming phase is controlled by a large number of rescuers on boats. In urgent need, participants are allowed to briefly get into the boat to rest or orient themselves.

The time limit for swimming is 1 hour. But even if you do not keep up, you are not disqualified, but will be brought to the shore and allowed to continue the race. As for the terrible sharks, they are small in the San Francisco Bay and are not interested in people. Large go only occasionally to hunt for seals. Another marine living creature for the triathletes is not dangerous.


The race is very difficult and newcomers are not recommended. Nevertheless, participants from her usually delighted. “I have not had such a beautiful and comfortable voyage since the time of the Bosphorus and if it were not for the current and big waves, I would probably have gone to the second round to the island,” writes Artem Kalabin.

Similar emotions he experienced from the running stage: “Such a beautiful distance, probably no more anywhere. It should run, without even participating in this race. ”

For most athletes in the Escape from Alcatraz, the main thing is participation, not victory. This impression is for life, and the finisher’s medal will certainly be given to grandchildren in a solemn atmosphere.
But there are also heroes of the race, of course. So, the world champion IRONMAN 70.3 – 2007 Andy Potts won it 6 times, the silver prize-winner of the Olympics-2000 Michelle Jones – 8. She also owns the women’s track record 2:08:54 (2004). Absolutely the best time in the same year showed Simon Lessing – 1:54:41.

The victory in San Francisco adorns the resume and other famous triathletes. In particular, Paul Newby-Fraser, Chris McCormack and Javier Gomez.


The only successful escape from Alcatraz in history

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