SALEM, Ore. – A Salem man drowned while attempting to escape police in the early hours of New Years Day, according to authorities.
Christopher Free, 34, was seen speeding around 12:40 a.m. New Year’s morning reported the Statesman Journal.
A police officer initiated a traffic stop and Free yielded. As he came to a stop the officer approached on foot. Prior to speaking to Free, the vehicle sped away according to the Salem Police Department.
The man eventually abandoned his car and fled on foot. He reportedly hid in the water beneath the High Street Bridge near Trade and High streets SE.
Salem Police Department said the area under the bridge has very little vertical space. Officers negotiated with Free for about 20 minutes, but he refused to get out of the water. Finally, when the suspect submerged, an officer jumped into the water to pull him onto the embankment.
Officers performed life saving measures prior to Free being taken to Salem Hospital by medics. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Oregon State Police Major Crimes Unit detectives are assisting in the investigation of the incident.
An autopsy is planned for today.