Escaping from Rikers Island prison is a two-step process: Flee your jail, then somehow make it off the island. Authorities say a 24-year-old inmate managed step one but not the all-important step two, reports the New York Times. This appears to be what happened: Guards took six inmates from one of the island's nine jails out into a small exercise yard Wednesday evening. Five of the inmates distracted a pair of guards as the sixth hopped a barbed-wire fence. Nobody noticed. It wasn't until a 7:30pm head count back inside the prison that the alert went out about a possible escape, reports NBC New York. Authorities found the inmate, identified as burglar Naquan Hill, about 2:30am, though his whereabouts weren't revealed.
"Went out with a total of six inmates and went back with five, and no one noticed anything wrong," a New York City official tells the Times. "This is simply staff negligence." When the breach was discovered, authorities shut down traffic to and from the island, effectively ending the inmate's shot at freedom. Swimming across the East River to the mainland would be all but impossible, though inmates have been known to get across by hitching a ride on a bus and, in one case, a garbage truck. (Read more Rikers Island stories.)