• The inmate was serving time for burglary and automobile theft
  • He was last seen walking away from a hospital where he was getting treatment 
  • A factory worker said the inmates helped rescue many who were trapped inside the building

Police are looking for a Kentucky prison inmate who fled from a hospital after being rescued from a candle factory that collapsed in a tornado.

Francisco Starks, 44, was part of a work-release program at the MCP Candle factory in Mayfield when the building collapsed Friday. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment.

Starks was last seen walking away from the hospital after being released. He did not report to the prison authorities, CNN reported.

Starks was serving time at the Graves County Jail for third-degree burglary, theft by unlawful taking of an automobile and receiving stolen property.

Seven inmates were working at the factory under the program that was introduced last week for low-level offenders, Graves County jailer George Workman told CNN. A deputy who accompanied the inmates Friday died after the tornado destroyed the building.

Kyanna Parsons-Perez, who was at the factory when it collapsed, said the work release inmates played a critical role in the rescue efforts.

"We felt the wind. My ears started popping, and then it was like the building, like we all just rocked back and forth, and then boom, everything fell on us," Parsons-Perez told CNN. "It was the most terrifying thing that I have ever experienced in my life." She was rescued from under 5 feet of debris.

Workman said authorities had to evacuate 83 inmates from the main jail to other facilities as the tornado severely damaged the building.

"(The damage is) structurally bad enough that I question it'll ever be able to open again," he said. "I've been in law enforcement and corrections since 1986 and I've never seen anything like this."

None of the inmates were injured. A spokesperson for the candle company said eight people died and eight others were missing, the New York Post reported.

Friday's tornado that destroyed the candle factory was part of a series of powerful tornadoes that hit six states from Friday to Saturday. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said the death toll is expected to surpass 100.

Police are asking anyone with information on Starks' whereabouts to contact Kentucky State Police, Post 1, at 270-856-3721 or anonymously at 1-800-222-5555.

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Representation. Police light. Pixabay