Light fixture allegedly used in escape goes under spotlight

The light fixture that 17-year-old Josue Rual Orozco grappled to hoist himself over a juvenile detention center wall and escape last week was the only light in the courtyard of the facility installed at a 12-foot height.

Every other halogen light at the Youth Services Center was installed at 15 feet, Chief Probation Officer Loren Buddress said.

What’s not clear yet is whether the lamp was installed lower by design or whether it was a construction error when the 2006 facility was built.

“The light was set lower than it should have been,” he said.

Wally MacMillan, an architect with KMD Justice, the firm that designed the center, said he was not at liberty to discuss any part of the design.

Calls to the construction firm that built the facility, Turner Construction Co., were not returned Thursday.

Two inmates are accused of aiding in the escape of Orozco, who reportedly received a boost from the two and then used the light as a grappling mount to climb over the 15-foot wall last Thursday night. Orozco was then able to jump to the ground and climb through a hole that had already been cut in a fence, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.

The Probation Department has launched an internal investigation into what went wrong at the facility, which should answer the question of why the lamp was lower than it should have been, Buddress said. He said the investigation should wrap up by early next week, andwill likely be presented to the county’s Board of Supervisors in their meeting Tuesday.

kworth@examiner.com

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