Morris and the Anglin brothers slipped out of their cells without difficulty, but Allen West couldn’t escape his. He had let the others know that the hole he made was ready, but it seems he miscalculated the size or the work necessary to enlarge the hole.
Frank Lee Morris worked from the utility corridor, while West worked from the inside. They tried everything, but the hole just wasn’t big enough, and West was stuck. Around 9:30 PM, over a glass of water from West’s cell, they both decided that West would have to be left behind.
The gang was all set, and all that was left was to wait for Allen West to finish carving out his escape hole. Then, they would be ready to move when the right moment arrived. In June 1962, the signal to begin the escape finally arrived, but things did not go as planned.
Allen West finally finished digging an escape hole large enough for him to go through on June 11, 1962. He let the other gang members know, but no one could have predicted what would happen next. This was not the end of the story, nor was it the beginning.
The Plan is Set in Motion
The gang anxiously waited for lights out that day to set their plan in motion. They wondered if any of them would make it to the outside alive. The risks were clear in their minds, but the draw of a life of freedom away from Alcatraz was just too strong.
They were willing to risk everything, including their lives, to get away from “The Rock.” Their hearts raced, and adrenaline coursed through their bodies at the very thought of escape. As soon as the lights went out, the crew set up the fake dummies and set out to squeeze out of their cells.
One Man Left Behind
After many months of working together and a general feeling of comradery, leaving West behind could not have been an easy decision, but the group was not left with a whole lot of options. The hole wasn’t budging, and any additional noise making it bigger was likely to bring about the guards’ unwanted attention.
Although reluctantly, West took one for the team and maybe even made the escape possible due to less weight on the raft. The three remaining escapees were finally ready to start their climb. They used the plumbing pipes in the utility corridor and climbed up 30 feet toward the roof.
The climb to the jailhouse roof went fairly easily for Morris and the Angling brothers. After which, they had to make a heart-pounding crossing of over 100 feet of rooftop before they could begin their descent. The three men climbed down 50 feet of pipes on the building’s side to reach the ground.
They came down next to the showers and quietly snuck past the guards stationed there. The three remaining team members used their wits and preparations to evade all the other guards on duty as they made their way to the shore. They had to stop there in order to inflate the raft and life vests.