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HOBART — An inmate taken Monday to St. Mary Medical Center briefly escaped from custody before police found him, according to a police report.

Thomas Gross III, 28, of Lake Station, was taken from the Lake County Jail to the Hobart City Jail on Monday for an appearance in Hobart City Court, police Lt. James Gonzales said.

While at the city jail, Gross told officers he had a headache and requested medical attention. Police asked medics to respond to the jail, and it was determined Gross should be taken to a hospital, police said.

Before leaving the city jail, Gross signed an affidavit promising he would not leave the medical facility without an escort from police. The affidavit also stated Gross could be charged with felony escape if he failed to return to custody.

Hobart police typically do not guard nonviolent offenders while they receive medical care, because of staffing and efficiency, Gonzales said.

Gross was being held at the county jail in connection with a theft from Walmart and a warrant for felony possession of a hypodermic needle. Neither charge would have met the threshold to place an officer at the hospital, Gonzales said.

His prior arrests were linked to traffic offenses, drug possession, possession of paraphernalia and theft, police said.

Gross was taken to St. Mary Medical Center about 5:25 p.m.

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About 6 p.m., the hospital notified Hobart police Gross left and had been seen running south from the hospital toward a wooded area by the former Hind Hospital, Gonzales said.

Hobart, New Chicago and Lake County police began searching the area. Hobart police used a K-9 and drone, and the sheriff's helicopter assisted, according to police.

A Hobart officer searching on foot found Gross in a NIPSCO right of way west of Lake Park Avenue and took him into custody, police said.

Hobart police are seeking a felony escape charge against Gross, Gonzales said.

Check back at nwi.com for updates to this story.


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