Water-Escape-Attempt Roundup

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

In reverse chronological order:

  • East Brunswick, NJ (Feb. 21): Police pursued and captured two men suspected of breaking into parked cars. Neither man escaped. One surrendered and stayed warm; the other jumped into an “icy cold pond” and didn’t.
  • Auckland, New Zealand (Feb. 16): A high-speed pursuit near Ōrewa Beach, north of Auckland, ended in a low-speed pursuit offshore after a suspect leapt from his car and into Whangaparāoa Bay. He reportedly swam “quite a distance offshore” before officers in a boat collected him. Where he was headed is unclear. Depending on what course he set, he might theoretically have made landfall in another part of New Zealand. But if he missed that, his next stop if any would have been the Cook Islands. Positive: Nice place! Negative: 1,800 miles away.
  • Eaton County, MI (Jan. 29): Police responding to a domestic-violence report tracked down the suspect, who “fled the scene and tried to escape by jumping into the Thornapple River.” Dogs and drones were used to locate the man, and a canoe was used to arrest him.
  • Kalamazoo, MI (Jan. 1): This one involved a motorcyclist who fled when officers tried to pull him over for a license-plate violation. Presumably he had done something worse than that, because he eventually ditched the bike and jumped into the Kalamazoo River in an effort to escape. He might have, because repeated searches failed to locate him. But he probably didn’t, because the high was 35 degrees that day, police said he was “struggling” in the water, they saw him go under, and didn’t see him come back up. So I would not cite this one as a success.
  • Houston, TX (Dec. 27, 2023): Starting point: the church from which this gentleman was stealing. Ending point: beneath the murky waters of a bayou in northeast Houston. Positive: murky water reduces visibility. Negatives: helicopter with infrared camera. Also positive: heat signatures turn out to be the suspect and some officers, not the suspect and some alligators. See, e.g., “Bad Places to Hide: Island in Alligator-Infested Lake” (Mar. 30, 2016) (also near Houston).
  • Traverse City, MI (Dec. 15, 2023) A man spotted driving erratically continued doing so for a while after a deputy tried to pull him over, but then stopped his F-150 truck, jumped out and ran away. A passenger in the truck then got behind the wheel and took over where his friend left off. That pursuit ended at a local marina, where the man drove down a boat ramp only to learn that F-150s are not amphibious.
  • London (Dec. 8, 2023): The England & Wales Court of Appeal affirmed the convictions of two men who were part of a team engaged in stealing catalytic converters. After a vehicular pursuit ended near the Grand Union Canal, five suspects piled out of the car. “Two ran toward the canal and jumped in,” and they of course were apprehended. A third “sank into some mud and had to be rescued,” and I say that also counts. What of the other two? “It appears,” the opinion says, “that two of the five men had managed to swim away, and therefore details of them are not known.” But no one saw them jump in, and no details are known, so the suggestion that this escape by water succeeded is pure speculation.
  • Burlington, VT (Aug. 2023): Normally a suspect’s first foray into water is also the last, but this one tried it three times in two days. Police found him passed out in a car matching the description of one used in a robbery, and when they woke him he fled at high speed. “That evening,” the report says, he fled police “on foot and then on a stolen bicycle before stealing a sailboat on Lake Champlain.” He fled on foot again after the boat ran aground. The next day, “he was spotted in a kayak” on a river about 20 miles away. Edson “landed the kayak, ran away and then jumped into the river and swam to the southern shore,” where he was arrested. Bonus points: creativity. End result: same as always.