Samaritan helps subdue prisoner at hospital

MIDDLEBURY — A citizen good Samaritan, a brave nurse and an experienced law enforcement officer helped avert what could have been an explosive situation at Porter Hospital on Monday afternoon.
The heart of the story is a scuffle between Addison County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Charles Clark and Robert G. Blaise, 29, of Middlebury — a prisoner who was being examined at Porter Hospital after collapsing during his arraignment at the Addison County Courthouse on Monday.
Addison County Sheriff James Coons explained that Blaise had originally been taken into custody following a chase in Ripton on Saturday, Nov. 7. Blaise was wanted on two outstanding arrest warrants. Coons said that Blaise, after unsuccessfully trying to make bail on Saturday, had complained of chest pains and was taken to Porter Hospital, where he was held for observation overnight while a sheriff’s deputy stood guard.
On Sunday, Blaise was taken to the Marble Valley Correctional Center in Rutland where he could be detained while under medical supervision, according to Coons.
On Monday, sheriff’s department officials collected Blaise for his arraignment at the Addison County courthouse. Presiding Judge Cortland Corsones set Blaise’s bail at $15,000. It was during this arraignment that Coons said that “Blaise, in front of the judge, had another unexplained medical attack.”
Court officials called an ambulance, which whisked Blaise to the Porter Hospital emergency ward, where the prisoner underwent tests, according to Coons.
Two hours after being admitted, Porter officials cleared Blaise for discharge, according to Coons. While Blaise’s paperwork was being processed, Clark — who had been assigned to take Blaise back to Rutland — agreed to slightly loosen the prisoner’s leg irons, according to Coons.
“As soon as (Clark) gets his key into the leg irons, Blaise bolts,” Coons said.
Clark held onto the leg irons, grabbed Blaise, and the pair crashed to the floor, according to Coons. During the scuffle, Clark’s gun — still lodged in its holster — popped off his belt and onto the floor. Coons said Blaise allegedly grabbed the holstered gun as he and Clark continued to wrestle.
Meanwhile, a man who had escorted a relative for treatment at Porter Hospital pulled back a curtain that separated him from the scuffle and asked if Clark needed help. Coons said that Clark replied “yes,” and the man — who asked that he not be identified in the media — jumped into the fray.
The good Samaritan’s entry into the tussle resulted in the holstered gun becoming dislodged from Blaise and sliding away across the floor, according to Coons. That’s when a nearby nurse grabbed it.
Clark and the good Samaritan brought Blaise under control.
“Thank goodness a potential tragedy was averted,” said Coons. “We thank (the good Samaritan) and the staff at the hospital.”
The good Samaritan is being described by authorities as a 40-year-old Brandon-area resident.
Coons also credited Clark, a 23-year veteran of the force, for the way he handled the incident.
“He handled it by the book,” Coons said.
Also responding to the call were officers from Middlebury Police Department and the Vermont State Police.
Blaise faces additional charges relating to the escape attempt and removal of Clark’s gun, according to authorities.

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