8 caught after ‘riot’ leads to escape at SandyPines treatment facility

Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 10:25 PM EST
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Eight juveniles were caught after escaping SandyPines juvenile treatment facility amid a “riot” Friday night, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office said.

The disturbance began about 9 p.m. in the complex on Southeast Tequesta Terrace in unincorporated Martin County. After midnight, the agency posted the facility is on a lockdown with all of those who escaped located.

About 50 of the total 130 residents in the facility were described to WFLX as “rioters” by Chief Deputy John Budensiek.

Twelve were taken to the St. Lucie Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Fort Pierce and face charges such as battery on a health care worker and resisting arrest.

At least three others, including a staffer members, were taken to Jupiter Medical Center with minor injuries.

Deputies searched for the escapees and were seen roaming the nearby neighborhood, the agency posted on Facebook. The agency used its helicopter in the search.

“We think may have all of them accounted for,” Budensiek told WFLX at the scene.

Budensiek described it as a "chaotic scene."

"We were called here along with Tequesta Police Department and Jupiter Police Department for a riot," Budensiek said. "We quelled the rioters, about 50 of these children that were kicking in the doors, breaking out the windows, throwing chairs and different things. Fighting with each other."

He told WFLX what led up to the situation.

"What looks like what happened was two juvenile females began an altercation with each other and, at some point in that altercation, a female staff employee tried to intervene," Budensiek said. "At that point one of the girl juveniles was able to grab a door card, a magnetic key, from the employee's neck."

SandyPines Residential Treatment Center provides comprehensive, multidisciplinary behavioral health treatment to adolescents ages 12–17, according to its website.

The 19.2-acre campus is beside Johnathan Dickinson State Park.

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