Wednesday news conference on Kearney YRTC

Published: Feb. 11, 2020 at 11:08 AM CST
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UPDATE: Tuesday, Feb 11, 2020 3:20PM:

Local4 has learned that city and state officials have called a press conference Wednesday to address recent issues at the YRTC and the Kearney community's concerns about the facility. Local4 will be covering the press conference Wednesday.


In the wake of three weekend escapes and a Friday morning incident in which several staffers were injured, the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center (YRTC) in Kearney is adding more management staff.

Early in the morning of February 7, several staff members were assaulted in one of the male dorms. A Department of Health and Human Services statement indicated they received "non-life threatening injuries." Numerous officers from the State Patrol, Buffalo County Sheriff's office and the Kearney Police Department were called to the scene. The DHHS statement indicated that the incident was resolved within about 30 minutes.

A Buffalo Watch alert issued Saturday at 3:00 PM reported that a YRTC juvenile escaped from a McDonald's restaurant in Kearney during a visitation. The alert reported the escapee was a black male wearing a black coat, green sweatshirt and blue jeans.

Another Buffalo Watch alert issued Sunday around 12:30 PM reported that two more juveniles had escaped. Both were white males wearing a black jacket, green sweatshirt and blue pants. The pair reportedly left in a Red Buick Ranier bearing the license plate WFM948.

As of Tuesday, there was no further word from DHHS regarding an investigation into the Friday incident or about whether the three escapees from the weekend had been apprehended. A statement issued Tuesday morning indicated that DHHS was working with the State Patrol, the Buffalo County Sheriff's office and Kearney police on the whereabouts of the three escapees.

A statement issued by DHHS Communications Manager Leah Bucco-White Tuesday morning said that an internal investigation was underway at the YRTC. The statement also said in part, "Additional management will now be onsite 24 hours a day providing additional assistance and leadership to ensure safety and security for our team and the youth we serve. DHHS is revisiting and strengthening protocols including those related to off-site visitation and furloughs, while continuing to maintain a family focus. These actions are part of the department’s effort to address recent incidents that occurred at YRTC-Kearney."

Local4 has also asked for more information regarding the number of juveniles involved in Friday morning's incident and their status as well as the number of YRTC employees involved and their current health status.

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