Salem man drowns attempting to escape from police

Man drowns while trying to escape Salem police

SALEM, Ore. -- A Salem man drowned while trying to escape from police officers early Sunday morning.

At about 12:40 a.m., an officer attempted a traffic stop after observing a car speeding through Salem streets. The car took off as the officer approached it on foot and crashed at Liberty and Mill Street.

The driver, identified as 34-year-old Christopher Free of Salem, exited the car and fled on foot. After establishing a perimeter, officers began searching for the man and eventually found him hiding under the High Street bridge near Trade Street SE and High Street SE. Officers told the man to get out of the water but he refused.

After 20 minutes of negotiation, an officer jumped into the water after the man went under. The man was pulled out of the water and after officers performed CPR, he was taken to Salem Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy is planned for Monday at 9 a.m.


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