DUI suspect at large after fleeing into James River

SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Police are investigating after a suspected DUI driver crashed and was last seen fleeing into the James River.

According to Suffolk Police spokeswoman Diana Klink, officers attempted to pull over the driver of a Dodge pickup truck for suspicion of DUI on Respass Beach Road in northern Suffolk around 1:34 a.m.

Photos: Search for DUI suspect in James River

The driver fled, and after a brief chase, crashed into a yard in the 5000 block of Bay Circle, striking a lamp post and a guy wire in the process. The two men inside the truck bailed from the vehicle and the driver was last seen going into the James River. The passenger escaped on foot.

“Lights were shining right in this window in the garage. That was the best seat in the house,” said Bill Moore, who owns the property where the pickup truck crashed. “There were four, five, six police cars. They were all over the place. They take off running this way and running this way and they’re out on my pier.”

“It was ample. A lot of response, but I was told by one of the officers that being an intoxicated person going in the river, to the Coast Guard, is a potential drowning, so that’s why they were out there,” Moore told WAVY.com.

The Suffolk Marine Patrol and U.S. Coast Guard searched the James River for the driver while Suffolk police searched the surrounding area for both men. They called off the search around 10 a.m. Monday, but have not been able to track down the driver or the passenger.

Moore said he has an idea where the driver, who went into the river, could be.

“Right over here between that green point and the bridge is Tidewater Community College’s former site. They can get in there and stay forever,” Moore said. There are hundreds of acres of woods just a short distance down the river, and Moore says if the driver knew the area, he would know he could wade all the way to those woods.

“It’s not muddy, and that water was probably knee-deep, three-feet-deep at that time of day,” Moore explained.

Throughout the afternoon WAVY reporter Deanna LeBlanc noticed a number of police vehicles patrolling the Bay Circle area, but by 6 p.m., police still had not tracked down either the driver or the passenger.

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