As the two cars hurtled down the hill toward her on Goyder Street in suburban Narrabundah - at high speed and on the wrong side of the road - Carey Syphers couldn't believe what she was seeing.
"It was a very scary situation, it really shook me up," she said.
"This is a narrow suburban street and they were coming straight at me; I thought: 'surely they aren't going to overtake here'.
"But they just kept coming so I had no choice but to drive straight off the road and over the gutter as quick as I could.
"If I hadn't, I'm sure we would have had a head-on crash; they [the two cars] barely missed my side mirror."
Unwittingly, Ms Syphers had been one of many Canberra drivers caught up in Friday afternoon's bizarre escape-from-custody incident, and one which the police later described as "like something out of a Hollywood movie".
Except this time there were not trained stunt drivers involved, just a panicked ACT Corrections officer with two of his fellow officers and an at-risk prisoner on board.
And behind them was a desperate woman driver, identified later as Lila Walto, chasing after them in a stolen white Jeep Renegade and determined to free the prisoner.
Ms Syphers' said it was only by "sheer luck" that the high-speed incident on the normally quiet suburban occurred on a Friday afternoon of school holidays.
"I drive that street quite often around that time and with Narrabundah College on the corner, during a normal school week it would be lined with school buses and there would be lots of kids crossing the road," she said.
"When I think back, it was just really, really lucky there were no students around when it happened."
Neither Corrections Minister Mick Gentleman nor the ACT's former Chief Police Officer and now the acting head of corrections, Ray Johnson, are willing to talk publicly about the extraordinary chain of circumstances which led to the white government-leased Toyota Camry sedan containing the three officers and the prisoner Kane Quinn, being involved in the high speed chase through Canberra's streets.
Three separate inquiries have now been launched into the bizarre Friday incident in which the stolen white Jeep chased the Camry through Canberra's suburban streets, across median strips and into private property, rammed it multiple times, and then ended with the handcuffed prisoner escaping custody and being driven away.
The Jeep 4WD was later burnt out in a suburban street in Forrest. Quinn and his two female accomplices were arrested in Lyneham.
The Community and Public Service Union, whose members guard the prison, has praised the actions of its three officers who displayed "quick thinking" and bravery in the face of the concerted and aggressive vehicle attack.
"It is only down to the swift actions of the officers in the vehicle that no one was critically injured after a series of mistakes by the Deputy Commissioner [of Corrections] were made in the weeks leading up to the incident," the union's ACT regional secretary Madeline Northam said.
"The decisions by senior management to continually use standard passenger vehicles, rather than fit for purpose prisoner transport vehicles or armed vehicles needs to stop.
"This issue has been raised by CPSU delegates on multiple occasions, most recently on June 24, 2021.
"It is imperative that the AMC put inmate and staff safety first and ensure that all vehicles are safe, fit for purpose, regularly serviced and all technology up to date."
The independent Inspector of Correctional Services, Neil McAllister, highlighted Corrections' use of a mid-sized Toyota Camry as "unfit for purpose" in a report he issued six months ago.
Corrections would not respond to any direct questions about the incident and the near-certainty that a major security breach occurred in the lead-up and which leaked information about the transport arrangements.
It is only now - with the prison's forlorn Toyota sedan comprehensively smashed and off the road after being repeatedly rammed in the Friday debacle - that ACT Corrective Services says it is "reviewingtransport arrangements and the type of vehicles used."
Corrections also refused to disclose the extent of the injuries to officers involved in the incident, although a eyewitness said one was transported to hospital and another received a head wound.
Internally, Friday's escape custody incident has created a huge rift between corrections staff and the executive. It is alleged that a senior executive, whose identity is known to The Canberra Times, sent an email to area managers describing the alarm over the escape custody incident as "staff hysteria".
The staff have since delivered a no-confidence motion in the senior executive. ACT Corrective Services would not respond to any questions on this matter.
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