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May 23, 2007
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Ohio officer drowns while pursuing suspect

The Associated Press
Officer Down: David Poling

GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — An officer died after he dived into the Ohio River to chase a fleeing suspect, authorities said Wednesday.

The officer's body was recovered from the river about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, Police Chief Clinton Patterson said. That was more than nine hours after he and another officer gave chase Tuesday afternoon.

The victim's name and which law enforcement agency he worked for were not released because his relatives had not been notified.

Two officers stopped a man on a city street for questioning at about 5 p.m. Tuesday, Patterson said.

The man, identified as Joseph Harris of Springfield, ran a few hundred yards before jumping into the river from a bank 10 to 15 feet above the water, Patterson said. It was not clear why Harris fled, he said.

The officers, hot in pursuit, apparently jumped into the river from the same location, Patterson said.

Witnesses said one of the officers went under water and did not resurface, according to Patterson. The other officer was pulled from the water by rescuers after trying in vain to save his friend.

The suspect, meanwhile, swam to Gallipolis Island, in the river about 150 feet from shore, and was arrested about two hours later by police who reached the island in boats, the chief said.

Harris was being held in the Gallia County jail. It was not immediately clear whether charges had been filed. A jailer said he did not yet have an attorney.


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