OKANOGAN, Wash. -- A homeless man who welcomed arrest in June changed his mind this week and escaped from an Okanogan County Corrections Center work crew at the county fairgrounds.
Nathaniel D. Smallbeck,18, left his black-and-white striped shirt behind Tuesday and fled through heavy brush. The sheriff said Thursday that deputies are still looking for him.
Around 9:30 a.m. a Grand Coulee Dam Police Officer spotted Smallbeck along Hwy 174 outside of Grand Coulee Dam. Smallbeck jumped over a fence and took off running up the hill towards the top of the Wilbur Grade in Lincoln County according to Sheriff Frank Rogers.
Around noon Undersheriff Joe Somday, Chief Criminal Deputy Dave Rodriguez and Sheriff Frank Rogers arrived in the area and hiked up ridges to locate any sign of Smallbeck.
Chief Rodriguez and Sheriff Frank Rogers hiked up the canyons while Undersheriff Somday remained in the vehicle driving to different areas to watch with binoculars. Around 4:15 p.m., four hours into the search officials were advised by dispatch that a local rancher had spotted the suspect approximately half of a mile away.
Undersheriff Somday contacted the rancher who took Undersheriff Somday to the spot he had seen the suspect last. Undersheriff Somday was able to spot Smallbeck hiding in the field around 1000 yards away. Because of the high fire danger officials did not want to drive into the filed with a patrol vehicle.
Undersheriff Somday road in the rancher's vehicle, a 4x4 pickup, towards Smallbeck. At this time it was obvious that Smallbeck did not know what to do according to officials. Smallbeck gave up and dropped down on the ground face down.
Smallbeck was taken into custody and later transported back to Okanogan County where he was rebooked.
Smallbeck stated that for the last two days he had been hiking on roads and going across country, trying to get to the Spokane area. Smallbeck said he didn’t think anyone would chase him up the hills out of Coulee Dam.