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Monday, January 20, 2014
Deep freeze jail breaks
Escaped inmate turns himself in and peacock turns into ice stick

Just how cold was it in Kentucky? Apparently cold enough for an escaped prisoner to decide to turn himself in. Authorities said the inmate escaped from a minimum security facility in Lexington on Jan. 5. As temperatures dropped into the low single digits Fahrenhit on Jan. 6, officials say the man walked into a motel and asked the clerk to call police.

Robert Vick, 42, of Hartford told the clerk he wanted to turn himself in and escape the arctic air, Lexington police spokesperson Sherelle Roberts said. Vick was checked out by paramedics and returned to Blackburn Correctional Complex, Roberts said. "This was definitely of his own volition," she said. "It's cold out there, too cold to run around. I can understand why the suspect would turn himself in."

Vick would have been dressed in prison-issued khaki pants, a shirt and a jacket when he escaped, Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lisa Lamb said. Wind chill readings were 20 below zero on Jan. 6 in Lexington. The Lexington Fire Department treated Vick for hypothermia the same evening, Roberts said. Vick was serving a six-year sentence for burglary and criminal possession of a forged instrument at the time of the escape from Blackburn Correctional Center.

It was also cold in Illinois. An adventurous peacock had to be rescued by Chicago-area firefighters after he flew from his heated pen to a nearby tree and froze to a branch in subzero temperatures. The Arlington Heights Daily Herald reports that Blue the peacock is recovering after the Jan. 7 misadventure that lasted about 90 minutes. Blue managed to fly from his enclosure at the Randall Oaks Barnyard Zoo in Dundee and perched atop a nearby pine.

Firefighters with a ladder helped zoo staff pluck the wayward bird from the tree. Temperatures at the time were 12 degrees below zero Fahrenhit (minus 24 degrees Celsius). Brian Mangiaracina is Randall Oaks' park and division manager. He says the whole thing was a "freakish accident" and that Blue is in quarantine. Dundee is about 35 miles northwest of Chicago.

Jan. 7 proved too cold even for some polar bears. At Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, a 14-year-old female polar bear named Anana mostly remained in her indoor enclosure, where temperatures are 40 degrees Fahrenhit (4 degrees Celsius), said zoo spokesperson Sharon Dewar. She said that in their native environment, polar bears build up a layer of fat to help them through the long periods of sub-zero temperatures of an Arctic winter. In Chicago, however, she said "we don't create that fat layer in zoo animals because that would normally not be something they would be comfortable with."

The cold snap could cost the U.S. economy up to US$5 billion, when lost productivity and lost retail sales are accounted for, estimated Evan Gold, senior vice president at Planalytics, which tracks weather for businesses.

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