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Former Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla escapes custody, caught in Hillsboro

colt lyerla.jpg

Former Oregon Ducks and Hillsboro High School football standout Colt Lyerla escaped county custody Thursday, and has been caught in Hillsboro.

He was serving a 6-month sentence at Washington County Community Correction Center (CCC) for a burglary charge at the time of his escape.

According to a report from the county, Lyerla escaped from a first-story dorm window at the facility sometime late Thursday afternoon. He'd been transferred from the county jail to the minimum security facility across the street just about a week prior.

When the alarm went off, the facility went into a lock down of sorts as staff ordered everyone back to their dorms. A headcount revealed Lyerla was the only person missing, and officials soon issued a warrant for his arrest.

Police responded to the report of an unconscious person on NE Parkside Drive in Hillsboro just after 11 a.m. Friday, where they found Lyerla. The occupants of the home had performed CPR and administered NARCAN to Lyerla, who was conscious and responsive when police arrived. While officers were walking him to the ambulance, Lyerla attempted to run away but was caught a short time later and hospitalized.

"He's a good guy," said Quintesa Manning, a friend since middle school. "Addiction's an addiction, it's a sickness. I know when he was with us he wanted to do good. I have faith in him."

Another friend, Jakob Priest, has known Lyerla since they were 7. The two grew up in Hawaii together, "we're like brothers."

Priest says he and Lyerla texted throughout the night Thursday. Priest says Lyerla had told him he had left the corrections center, but didn't mention anything about escaping.

"The last 6 months he's been very fragile," Priest said. "When people say he's a failure, that really gets to him. He was trying to get sober."

A man who stayed at the corrections center Thursday tells KATU News Lyerla escaped after being punished by the staff for a minor infraction, that would have prevented him from leaving his room for two weeks. . Steve Berger, the facility's director confirms Lyerla "had been caught by staff passing a written note to a female resident within the facility."

The facility

The CCC is a transition facility with the goal of effectively reintegrating offenders into the community. With more than 2,000 offenders coming through the facility each year, the county said its average success rate has been 85 percent.

A release said the facility has been nationally recognized for its work release and re-entry programs.

Only 0.3 percent of the unsuccessful cases, a fraction of a fraction of the facilities intakes, have been a result of "new crimes" in the community, the release said.

Criminal history

Lyerla was arrested on heroin and forgery charges in late March and was recently convicted in a heroin possession case from August of last year. Jail records show he was also charged with a probation violation.

He pleaded guilty to cocaine possession in December 2013, for which he received a short jail sentence.

A DUII charge in 2014 was dismissed.

Standout to breakout

Lyerla was a 5-star prospect out of Hillsboro High School. The former Oregon tight end left the Ducks in the middle of the 2013 season after he was suspended for violating team rules. When he decided to leave, Lyerla told Oregon's athletics website, GoDucks.com, that his withdrawal from school had nothing to do with that suspension.

"He had it made, what a physical specimen," said Jim Bellingham, who watched Lyerla's high school and college career. "He set an example for Hillsboro. Kids just certainly looked up to him and that's just faded away. It's really too bad."

He pursued a career in the NFL, briefly on the roster for the Green Bay Packers, but it ended with a knee injury. He got a spot on Portland's Arena Football League team in 2016, but suffered a shoulder injury in his second game.

Lyerla also stirred up controversy during his time at Oregon after he tweeted support of conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. One of his posts concerned the parents of the young victims. The school issued a strongly worded statement condemning the post.

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