Long Wait Takes Toll On Hostages’ Relatives With AM-Prison Riot, Bjt
STRINGTOWN, Okla. (AP) _ Yannash Scott was having a hard time staying awake, but the 15-year-old was keeping a vigil with his mother and other relatives of hostages held 300 yards away in Mack Alford Correctional Center.
″I’ll beat you, Mom, if I keep this up,″ he said. He showed his mother his watch to make the point that by early Sunday morning he’d already been up 26 hours. His father is one of the three prison guards held hostage by about 20 inmates since late Friday night.
The teen didn’t flinch when his mother said he’d have to keep it up at least another day to beat her personal record, set some time ago, of 56 hours without sleep.
″I’ll make it 57, just to show you,″ he said playfully.
But it’s a bet he’d gladly lose if he could just see his father and return home.
″I never thought this would happen to dad, not my dad,″ the boy said. ″I wish they’d let him go.″
There had been little word for relatives of prison guard Ronnie Scott or fellow hostages Harold Yoder and Lewis McGee. Prison officials have said the three are in good health and have not been injured, but little else is known.
″It’s really aggravating, sitting here waiting,″ Yannash said.
Yoder’s wife, Carolyn Yoder, was also among those keeping the vigil on the lawn outside where the hostages were held. Six family members of hostages waited through the early morning, sitting on lawn chairs, blankets and cushions.
″When they had anything to tell us during the day, they would come over with it,″ Mrs. Yoder said, referring to prison officials’ behavior Saturday. ″I’ve got no complaints about that.″
Later, however, Mrs. Yoder would joke to a friend after not hearing from prison officials until several hours after sunrise Sunday that ″I knew I’d have to read the paper to find out what was going on in there.″
Tempers flared a bit as the group talked among themselves through the pre- dawn hours. Rick Oumstead, a nephew of one of the hostages, couldn’t believe the prison’s warden, Ted Wallman, hadn’t met with some of the women in the group.
″I don’t know the warden, I never met him,″ Mrs. Yoder said. ″I know the chaplain. He’s the one who comes out here to talk to us.″
″What they ought to do is go in there with that special SWAT team,″ she said. ″Those boys are smart enough to know what they’re doing. I’d feel a lot safer with them going in there to take my husband.″
The suggestion of the hostile prisoners being allowed to transfer to a federal prison in El Reno angered the group. The transfer idea was later rejected by the inmates.
″Why should they get to go to a federal prison?″ Mrs. Yoder asked. ″I suppose so they can play tennis and have a swimming pool.″
″My way of thinking, the ringleader ought not to be allowed to walk away from this,″ Oumstead said.