INDIANTOWN, Fla. (AP) -- It must have seemed like a foolproof plan to a convicted sex offender desperate to be free: A helicopter swooping down to rescue him, more than $10,000 in cash and a van ready for a getaway.
But 28-year-old Steven Whitsett's hopes were dashed Tuesday when authorities found him and his alleged student pilot accomplice plodding through waist-high canal water, their clothes soggy and muddy.
The convict and 23-year-old Clifford Burkhart, captured after more than 24 hours on the loose, were scheduled to appear in court today for the first time since their daring escape attempt.
On Monday, Burkhart's rented chopper landed on the grounds of the Martin Treatment Center, picked up Whitsett and cleared a 15-foot razor-wire fence, police said.
It crashed near an orange grove only 100 yards away. Whitsett and Burkhart ran off into the surrounding swamp, leaving behind empty gun holsters, police said.
On Tuesday, a deputy spotted Whitsett and Burkhart walking in a canal near a gated subdivision in Stuart and fired two warning shots, telling the men to put down their 9 mm handguns.
The men were carrying $10,098 in cash and deputies found a rental van they believe the fugitives planned to use.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.