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Horry County police continue to search for escapee

Horry County police continued Wednesday to search for a 45-year-old man who led police on two chases and escaped from police custody at Conway Medical Center on Monday, Sgt. Robert Kegler said.

Jeffrey D. Collins, 45, is being sought by the Horry County police department for escape and by Brunswick County Sheriff’s office for felony eluding arrest and felony possession of a stolen vehicle, police said.

Collins escaped from police custody Monday evening while he was being treated at Conway Medical Center after being arrested in North Myrtle Beach, Kegler said. Collins was not restrained while he was treated at the hospital and when the officer went to handcuff him, Collins ran out of the hospital.

Officers with tracking dogs searched the area around the hospital, but did not find him, Kegler said. At 10:35 p.m. Monday, an Horry County patrol officer found a 1997 Ford F-150 that was reported stolen along S.C. 544.

Police pursued the truck from the Myrtle Beach area into the Murrells Inlet area before it crashed on Elk Drive, Kegler said. Collins ran from the truck and again officers with tracking dogs searched that area, but did not locate him.

Collins was first arrested Monday afternoon by North Myrtle Beach police after he led Brunswick County deputies, Horry County police and North Myrtle Beach police on a chase in two stolen vehicles.

At 10:58 a.m. Monday, Brunswick County sheriff deputies were alerted to a stolen vehicle by a company representative from OnStar and told the vehicle was sitting at Benton Road and U.S. 17 in Brunswick County, Sgt. April Stanley said.

When deputies approached the vehicle, the driver sped away and police followed, said Stanley with the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office. The pursuit continued across the state line where Horry County and North Myrtle Beach police officers got involved, Stanley said. The Brunswick County Sheriff's helicopter continued to assist local authorities.

Collins drove to Seacoast Medical Center, ran through the emergency room and out the back door, where he stole a delivery truck, Horry County police Sgt. Robert Kegler said.

Collins then drove that stolen vehicle to the Big Lots department store in North Myrtle Beach, where he parked behind the store, went inside and called a taxi, said Nicole Aiello, city spokeswoman.

The taxi driver, who was working with police, drove the man toward the beach. Once the taxi got near Third Avenue South, the man jumped out and went onto the beach, where North Myrtle Beach police arrested him without incident, she said.

Anyone who sees Collins or has information regarding his whereabouts should call 911, police said.

More details will be posted when they become available.