11/13/2006

La. police lose man after bridge jump

By Victoria St. Martin, River Parishes bureau
Times-Picayune

State Police continued to search Friday for an unidentified man who was arrested on a Florida warrant and escaped from a police cruiser Thursday evening by jumping off a guardrail on Interstate 55 into the water below.

Authorities did not release the man's name.

The man, wanted on warrants for burglary, larceny and fraud, was arrested Thursday at 6:30 p.m. after a car he was riding in was stopped on Interstate 55 northbound between the Ruddock and Manchac exits, authorities said.

State Trooper Joseph Piglia said once it was discovered that the man was wanted, a trooper arrested and handcuffed him before placing him in the back of a patrol car. When the officer later returned to the patrol car, the man had freed himself and was hanging from a guardrail. Piglia said the suspect let go and dropped into the water.

"We're not positive if he was handcuffed or not," Piglia said.

The man was last seen swimming toward a grassy area on the east side of U.S. 51, according to a State Police report. Piglia said the arresting officer drove to the Manchac exit in search of the man, but to no avail. Additional troopers and air search-and-rescue personnel joined in the manhunt, but the man remained at large Friday evening.

Copyright 2006 The Times-Picayune Publishing Company

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