Florida authorities are scrambling to find two convicted teen felons who escaped from a secure juvenile detention center Monday and are believed to be hiding deep in a swampy stretch of eastern Florida crawling with snakes and alligators.
The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office says 18-year-old Joe Alvin Hix and 15-year-old Fred Aaron Gentle were last seen at the AMI Kids Crossroads center in Punta Gorda early Monday.
The two teens are "very bad kids who have been in and out of courts" and were serving a sentence at the Crossroads center as a last resort before doing hard time, Officer Bob Carpenter told Fox News.
Officials at the center did not know how they managed to bolt from the detention center, which they said was located in a trying landscape and was not a "walk-away" facility.
"We're trying to determine how they got away," said Sherri Ullege, who works at the center. "We're located in a tough place to escape."
Deputies, search dogs and volunteers are searching throughout eastern Charlotte County in southwest Florida for the two, but had to suspend a search by air because of rain.
Officials say Hix is from Immokolee and about 5'7" tall with grey eyes and blond hair. Gentle is from Sarasota. He has his name tattooed on both hands and is 5'7" with hazel eyes and blond hair.
Anyone with information on their whereabouts is urged to call deputies at 941-639-2101.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.