By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

An escaped felon is still at large following his escape from his jailers Saturday morning.

David Scott Fournier, 36, of Ferndale, escaped at 2:54 a.m. Saturday while he was cleaning the lobby at Del Norte County Sheriffs Department, according to Sheriff Jim Maready.

This individual was assigned to the night cleanup crew and we utilize them to clean the building, said Maready. They have to meet certain criteria to be classified for the work program.

He was helping one of our correctional officers and her attention was diverted, and the next thing she knew he was out the door and gone, he said.

We flooded the area within minutes, said Captain Doug Plack. All his recent associates were contacted some several times (as well as) people he had contact with while in custody, family members and addresses we found in his cell.

At first available light Saturday morning, the California Highway Patrol loaned the use of its helicopter for the search. According to Maready, the air search was unsuccessful.

Fournier was convicted on several charges Jan. 12, 2001, ranging from first degree burglary, resisting a peace officer, possession of a syringe, and various traffic violations, according to police.

Fournier was spotted out of town Sunday, according to Captain Doug Plack.

He was last seen in Eureka panhandling, said Plack. That came from the Eureka Police Department, so its pretty confirmed. But thats not saying he wont double back.

The fact Fournier was able to get out of town so quickly, despite the airport and bus terminal being notified, indicated a possible accomplice, according to Maready.

Obviously he made contact with someone and got some clothes, Maready said. If we find that person, unless they have a real good reason for having his orange jumpsuit, we will charge them with aiding and abetting.

Fourniers girlfriend is someone the Sheriffs Department especially wishes to speak to, Maready said.

While he was in custody, she was his only visitor, the only person he telephoned and his only correspondent, said Plack. Now we cant find her.

We spoke to her Saturday morning at 5 a.m., said Maready. Since then we have been unable to locate her.

Police are seeking the girlfriend, Andrea Truelove, to find out if she has information about the escape and to determine if she is well.

Surprisingly to police, Fournier had a hearing last Thursday where it appeared he would be receiving a reduced sentence.

We had put his case back on the calendar for April, said District Attorney Bob Drossel. We were waiting for a report from a doctor to see if he was an addict. If so, he could be sent over to CRC (California Rehabilitation Center).

A term at the CRC for Fournier would have been only two years, as opposed to a four-year prison term he was looking at, according to Drossel.

Of course, when hes apprehended hell be facing some new charges. Im sure the judge will have a different outlook on his case now, Drossel said.

Why Fournier was eligible for the jails work program is a matter Maready said he will be looking into.

We will be investigating this incident to make sure department policy was followed, Maready said. Under our new classification system, we havent had anybody leave our facility or work program before. This is the first case in six years.

But for the moment, the Sheriff Departments main concern is capturing the fugitive, according to Plack.

Whenever anyone runs from this facility, we automatically consider them as dangerous, he said. It doesnt matter if someone came in as a burglar or because they missed making child support payments. There is some reason they ran.

Fournier is described as a white male, six feet five inches tall, 230 pounds, brown eyes and wavy brown hair.