Study: Alcatraz inmates could have survived escape

FILE - In this June 12, 1962, file photo, Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary in San Francisco Bay is shown the day three prisoners escaped. Scientists say the three prisoners who escaped from Alcatraz in one of the most famous and elaborate prison breaks in U.S. history could have survived and made it to land. Using software to study currents the night of the 1962 escape, three Dutch scientists concluded the three men could have made it to land north of the Golden Gate Bridge if they left between 11:30 p.m. and midnight. Prison officials and federal agents insisted at the time that the inmates perished, but their bodies were never found. (AP Photo/File)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The three prisoners who escaped from Alcatraz in one of the most famous and elaborate prison breaks in U.S. history could have survived and made it to land, scientists concluded in a recent study.

The three Dutch scientists, using the latest hydraulic software and information about tides on the night of the 1962 escape, said the three men could have made it to land north of the Golden Gate Bridge if they left between 11:00 p.m. and midnight. If they left before 11 p.m., the strong currents of San Francisco Bay would have carried them to the Pacific Ocean and death, the scientists said.

Prison officials and federal agents insisted at the time of the escape that the inmates — brothers John and Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris — perished, but their bodies were never found, continuing speculation that they survived.

“Of course, this doesn’t prove that” they survived, one of the scientists, Rolf Hut, a researcher at Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands, said in a news release about the study. “But the latest and best hydraulic modelling information indicates that it was certainly possible.”

The scientists presented their findings Tuesday at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco.

The three prisoners were serving sentences for bank robbery when they pulled off the escape with stolen spoons, dummy heads and a raincoat raft. Their exploits were turned into the 1979 movie “Escape from Alcatraz,” starring Clint Eastwood as Morris.

U.S. Marshal Michael Dyke, who inherited the unsolved case in 2003, told The Associated Press two years ago that he didn’t know whether any of the trio was still alive. But he had seen enough evidence to make him wonder.

That evidence included credible reports that the Anglins’ mother, for several years, received flowers delivered without a card and that the brothers attended her 1973 funeral disguised in women’s clothes despite a heavy FBI presence.

For their study, the Dutch scientists simulated scores of boat launches from different points on Alcatraz Island every 30 minutes between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. on the night of the escape. They also factored in the possibility that the inmates paddled.

The model that concluded they could have reached land north of the Golden Gate Bridge also found that any debris they released in the water would have floated toward another island in the bay.

The researchers said they did not set out to study the Alcatraz escape. The project was initially intended to analyze flood risk to large industrial facilities on the bay.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

WTNH NEWS8 provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Also, you can now block any inappropriate user by simple selecting the drop down menu on the right of any comment and selection "Block User" from there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s