Oregon State Hospital escapee: Timeline of escape and manhunt

PORTLAND, Oregon — Over the past week, an “extremely dangerous” man escaped police custody, stole a van and was on the loose for a couple of days. Friday morning, he was apprehended when he was found in a Portland pond, stuck in mud.

An Oregon State Hospital spokesperson said on Wednesday night, 39-year-old Christopher Lee Pray had a fight with another patient and needed to be taken to a local hospital.

Pray is facing attempted murder, robbery and assault charges from back in May. In another case, he is accused of robbing and shooting out windows of a North Portland auto parts store in April.

As he was returning to the Oregon State Hospital, Pray stole a white Dodge Caravan minivan and then took off southbound on Interstate 5, Oregon State Police said. Police followed but ended the pursuit on I-5 due to safety concerns.

When he was being transported back to the hospital, Pray had shackles on his legs, a belly chain, handcuffs and more restraints. When he was apprehended, he didn’t have any of the restraints. It’s not clear how he was able to take control of the van, or break free from his restraints. Police did tell KGW that restraints can be taken off with the proper tools.

The timeline that follows was constructed using information gathered by KGW reporters as well as information provided by Oregon State Police and the state hospital.

Sequence of events

8:15 a.m. Wednesday – Pray arrives at the Oregon State Hospital. During the day, he’s involved in a physical altercation in the cafeteria and gets transported to a local hospital in Salem for treatment.

10:45 p.m. Wednesday – As Pray is returning to OSH, he gains control of the Dodge minivan and makes his escape. How he got control of the van, and what exactly happened to the driver, remains unclear. OSP would only say that the person is “okay physically.”

11:05 p.m. Wednesday – The first trooper arrives on scene at the state hospital, and indicates the suspect was wanted for the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and escape.

11:10 p.m. Wednesday – A Keizer Police unit locates the vehicle and initiates a traffic stop, but the vehicle — with Pray operating it — flees onto I-5 south. Keizer PD continues pursuit with OSP assisting, before transferring the pursuit to OSP. OSP terminates the chase because at the time, the circumstances of the incident do not meet the pursuit policy.

11:02 a.m. Thursday – OSP issued a press release, requesting the public’s assistance in finding the dangerous escapee. This came more than 12 hours after Pray had already escaped custody. Police continue to search for Pray throughout the day.

8:17 a.m. Friday – Portland Fire & Rescue are dispatched to a call that there may be a potentially dead person in a pond at North Force Avenue and North Victory Boulevard. When crews arrived, they found a man stuck in the mud, up to his neck.

9:17 a.m. Friday – About an hour after crews arrived, they are able to remove Pray from the mud by using a rope and ladder. He was stuck about 75 feet from firm ground. Pray was then taken to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center and gave a fake name. A staff member recognized Pray, and staff members called the police. Law enforcement responded to the hospital, and confirmed that the man was Pray.

11:12 a.m. Friday – OSP issued a press release that said that Pray was back in custody.

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Taylar Ansures is a producer and reporter for NBC5 News. Taylar is from Redding, California and went to California State University, Chico. After graduating, she joined KRCR News Channel 7 in Redding as a morning producer. She moved to Southern Oregon in 2022 to be closer to family and became KTVL News 10’s digital producer. Taylar is currently finishing her Master's Degree in Professional Creative Writing through the University of Denver. In her free time, Taylar frequents independent bookstores and explores hiking trails across Southern Oregon and Northern California.
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