PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Christopher Lee Pray, who escaped from Oregon State Hospital earlier this week, was discovered stuck in mud near the Portland Expo Center on Friday, according to Portland Fire and Rescue.
On Friday morning, Portland Fire & Rescue shared on X that a person was stuck in mud in a north Portland pond for more than 12 hours and crews were responding to rescue him.
When fire crews arrived, they spoke to the man and canceled Portland police response to the scene, taking the next hour to rescue the man, authorities said.
“One of our firefighters went out to the tip of the ladder and was able to throw this individual a rope, which they were able to grab on to,” said Lt. Laurent Picard of PF&R. “And at that point, one of our firefighters was able to pull him out of this muck enough that we were able to drag him to shore.”
Once he was out of the mud, officials say he was cleaned and taken to the hospital. Fire officials say the restraints Pray had when he went missing were nowhere to be found when they rescued him – a detail that likely saved his life: PF&R says he had been submerged for as many as twelve hours before they arrived.
“It was a very life-threatening situation for them due to the potential for hypothermia, and also given their position and how deep they were in this mud they could have suffocated,” Picard said.
It wasn’t until he was at the hospital that an employee recognized Pray, who police say had given them a fake name.
“Well, I’ve been on this job for 27 years and, and I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen an incident, anything like this,” Picard said. “We had no idea who this person was and, and frankly, it doesn’t matter to us when there’s a life threat, we’re there to save lives.”
Pray was taken back into custody, police said.
On Thursday, state authorities announced Pray, who they warned the public to be considered “extremely dangerous,” had escaped the custody of Oregon State Hospital and state police while shackled in a state van and was last seen heading south on Interstate 5.
Pray was originally in custody for attempted aggravated murder.
Oregon State Hospital said Pray, 39, had needed to be transferred to a local emergency department for medical care after an altercation with another state hospital patient. After returning to the state hospital around 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Pray stole the van while fully restrained with leg shackles, a belly chain, handcuffs, and a restraint connecting it all together, according to authorities.
Stay with KOIN 6 News as this story develops.