Yet More Unsuccessful Water Escapes

Your move, officer (image: Aida County Sheriff's Department)

I haven’t posted something in this category since August 2021 (see Suspect Who Fled Into Lake Pursued by Officer on Paddleboard“), but, sadly, that’s not because the world’s aspiring fugitives have finally learned that trying to escape via water simply does not work. In fact, reports of unsuccessful attempts have continued to flow like the waters of the mighty Monongahela.

  • Pittsburgh police said a suspected carjacker jumped into the Monongahela River on Wednesday night (Aug. 2), but it won’t surprise you to learn he did not escape. Police just called their River Rescue unit, which had little trouble finding and reaching the floundering suspect (because they use boats, which is kind of the whole point here). At first he refused the life preserver they threw him. “The suspect did finally take the preserver,” the report says, “but continued to swim away from authorities.” C’mon, man. If you don’t think you need the life preserver, fine. But don’t take it and then swim away. That’s just rude.
  • That example came just one day after somebody in Yankton, South Dakota, jumped into the Missouri River after being spotted by officers who had a warrant for his arrest. He appeared to be trying to make it to Nebraska, a plan with at least two weak points: (1) it would require about a 400-yard swim at that point, and (2) you’d end up either dead or in Nebraska. Not surprisingly, officers heard the man “call out for help 100 yards from the [South Dakota] shoreline,” far short of his goal. Much more surprisingly, however, he somehow made it across. Authorities had lost track of him, and at 4 a.m. temporarily called off the search. But a few hours later, he was spotted walking along a highway near South Yankton, Nebraska, wearing only a pair of boxers. So this guy gets partial credit, but his attempt still failed.
  • “Two waterlogged men” were charged with breaking and entering after a failed attempt to flee police in Barrie, Canada. The men, who were trying to break into a boat at the city marina, “initially evaded capture” by jumping into Lake Simcoe. But, as usual, both were “eventually located as they exited the water and were taken into custody.” According to Wikipedia, Lake Simcoe was named after the father of John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada. But it says the First Nations people of the area referred to it as “Zhooniyaang-zaaga’igan,” which I’m pretty sure translates to “sound we make when white people ask what something is called.”
  • Six hours in the water for this guy, who was wanted on no fewer than seven active warrants at the time he left dry land in Fort Collins, Colorado, in favor of floating down the Poudre River. Mostly floating, at least. “[W]here the river was shallow,” a press release stated, “he would stand up and walk on foot, still in the river continuing east.” Police watched him with a drone until he returned to shore just before nightfall, when he was taken into custody.
  • Mann schlägt Frau mit toter Möwe,” reads one headline applied to this event, which took place in Hamburg back in August 2022. Don’t speak German? This one isn’t hard once you know that “toter Möwe” is German for “dead seagull.” And now you do. After the schlagging, Frau called police, and their arrival prompted Mann to leap into the nearby lake. As usual, this did not improve his situation.
  • Finally, we have one of the few exceptions that prove the rule. In May, two masked men in wetsuits broke into a home on Lake Washington (near Seattle), “stole $20,000 in cash from an unsecured safe” and then “escaped on kayaks,” according to this report. So far as I can tell, these guys haven’t yet been caught. But this case shares features with our previous example of a temporarily successful water escape, the theft of the Swedish crown jewels. “Speedboat Escape Is Exception That Proves the Rule” (Aug. 3, 2018). That, too, involved a planned getaway that involved a boat, not just a guy suddenly jumping into some water. It also occurred on a large lake with many miles of shoreline, inlets, and other potential hiding places. This one also took place at night, and the police who responded didn’t immediately call the harbor patrol. So it’s hardly typical of the kind of cases I’m going on about here.
  • Also, who keeps $20,000 in cash in “an unsecured safe,” and what are the odds a couple of random kayak burglars would just happen to break into that particular house? I suspect there is more to this story that may make it even more exceptional.