By Karen Nelson
The Sun Herald
D'IBERVILLE, Miss. — Police officers who tried to talk a man out of the Tchoutacabouffa River were visibly shaken Saturday afternoon when it became apparent the man drowned.
"This is a true tragedy," said Clay Jones, public information officer for D'Iberville police. "Our prayers are with the family of the victim as well as the officers."
Search dogs, dive teams from three agencies, fire and police from D'Iberville and Harrison County, state Fish and Wildlife officers and the state Department of Marine Resources searched until after dark for the man along the Tchoutacabouffa north of Sangani Boulevard. The search will resume this morning.
Recovery teams were staged at the Lamey Bridge Road bridge. While it was still light, residents of nearby apartments and homes stood and watched along the river bank.
The man had fled a police traffic stop on Lamey Bridge Road. He had turned into a subdivision of town houses and apartments along the Tchoutacabouffa, left his car and jumped into the river.
Jones said the man drove to the back of the subdivision with police in pursuit. He left the vehicle and two officers chased him on foot. A resident helped them find him. He was already in the river, police said.
The officers talked with the man, trying to persuade him to come out. He was in the water along a bulkhead and they were above him, Jones said.
"He was right against the shoreline," Jones told the Sun Herald. "Then he backed away and into the river, as if he were going to cross the river."
The officers, still trying to talk him into coming back, saw the man begin struggling.
Police Chief Wayne Payne said the man called out that he couldn't swim.
"The officers took their vests off and other clothing, jumped into the water to try to save him," Payne said. "But he had already gone under.
The traffic stop happened about 1:20 p.m. The man had outstanding warrants and traffic violations.
D'Iberville police will ask the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation to conduct an independent probe into the death, "which is our protocol in situations like this," Payne said. "And the District Attorney's office will oversee that."
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Copyright 2014 The Sun Herald