Visitor Trapped in Jail for 31 Hours: Chicago Man Accidentally Locked Behind Steel Doors

(Photo: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)Inmates are escorted by a guard through San Quentin state prison in San Quentin, California, June 8, 2012.

A visitor was trapped in jail in Chicago over the weekend after getting locked into the wrong area, according to reports. An unidentified man had intended to see his son in Cook County Jail, but ended up shut in behind steel doors for 31 hours instead.

The visitor got trapped in jail Saturday at 6 p.m. after taking a wrong turn. Prison staff had told him to go down a hallway and make a right to see his son through a glass partition, but he went into the wrong door which had been propped open by contractors.

"He went into that room through two steel doors, both of which shut behind him and he was locked in," Cara Smith, the executive director of the prison, told WLS. She told USA that it was an innocent mistake that could have happened to anyone, since the propped door read "visitor vestibule."

Contractors had been working to install security cameras in the room, but because it was already equipped with stools and the glass partitions for visitors, the man figured he would wait for his son to arrive. After two hours, though, he realized his mistake. He banged on the steel door, but it didn't do much good.

"There's about two feet of cement and two steel doors between him and the outside," Smith told the Chicago Sun-Times. Worse, the room wasn't used on the weekends, so no one came inside to check on him.

After spending Sunday trapped inside the man figured out a solution Monday at 1:30 a.m.— he broke the sprinkler on the ceiling, forcing the fire department to investigate.

"It was raining in the room when we got there," Larry Langford of the Chicago Fire Department told USA Today Network.

Besides cutting his thumb on the sprinkler and requiring stitches, the man was fine after his ordeal. Now officials at Cook County Jail are looking into how a mistake like this could happen, especially when guards never saw the man sign out.

"We're been looking at how and why and what went wrong," Director Smith told the Chicago Tribune. "Multiple things obviously failed including a contractor leaving a door open while they did work in our jail. It was a perfect storm of circumstances that led to this horrible incident."