Man who escaped Garfield Heights Jail dies in fiery crash on 176

GARFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio-- The man who escaped the Garfield Heights Jail on Friday died in a fiery crash on state Route 176.

Donnie Thomas (Photo courtesy: Garfield Heights police)

Donnie J. Thomas, 34, of Sagamore Hills, escaped just before 8 a.m. Friday. Garfield Heights police said he attacked a jailer and was last seen running east from Oakpark Boulevard.

Police combed neighborhoods in the area around the jail in an attempt to find him.

Officers later spotted a stolen vehicle in the area of Transportation Boulevard and Interstate 480 and chased it. The pursuit was called off because of the high rate of speed, police said.

The car crash and ejected the driver, identified as Thomas. He was taken to MetroHealth Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The I-480 eastbound ramp to SR 176 north was closed because of the crash.

Thomas was originally arrested for a robbery offense earlier Friday. Police said he claimed to have a gun and robbed a Walgreens.