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Pregnant Minnesota inmate escapes from hospital after labor scare

WILLMAR, Minn. – A pregnant Kandiyohi County Jail inmate, briefly hospitalized at Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar  for a labor scare, reportedly escaped out the door and out of the hospital Sunday, running down the street from authorities in her hospital gown.

Stephanie Barbara Pederson, 26, was about to be released from the hospital and transported back to the jail, where she was being held pending court appearances in several felony, gross misdemeanor and misdemeanor criminal cases.

On Tuesday, Pederson was charged in Kandiyohi County District Court with escaping from custody, a felony. The criminal complaint filed with the charge details Pederson’s alleged short-lived escape from authorities Sunday.

The woman had been transported from the jail to the hospital by ambulance earlier Sunday because she was possibly in labor. Pederson is 23 weeks pregnant. She was not restrained in the emergency room.

According to court documents, a correctional officer brought jail garb for Pederson to change into before she was discharged from the hospital and brought back to the jail.

That’s when Pederson “leapt out the door,” according to the criminal complaint. The officer initially chased Pederson while calling for backup, but lost her in heavy traffic outside the hospital. She was eventually found in a home nearby where she previously lived.

A witness described a woman in a hospital gown running into the yard at the address, but did not see where the woman went, according to the complaint.

Authorities searched the open basement of the residence to no avail. They allegedly found Pederson while searching the detached garage, lying on top of a couch stacked on top of another couch.

Pederson was taken back into custody at the Kandiyohi County Jail.

She made her first appearance on the charge Monday in Kandiyohi County District Court. Her next is scheduled for Oct. 31.

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