Handcuffed man lucky to be alive after jumping into Zumbro
Rochester police said a 23-year-old Racine man is lucky to be alive after he managed to get away from police, scramble over a small parking ramp wall, jump several feet into the Zumbro River and cross the river — all while being handcuffed.
The incident began at 2:12 a.m. Saturday with the report of a fight on the second floor of the parking ramp on Third Street. When officers arrived, they found two men fighting, said Capt. John Sherwin. The men were separated and handcuffed, "then groups of their friends started getting into it," he said.
The officers left the handcuffed men sitting on the ground as they separated the two groups that were fighting.
The Racine man saw that as his opportunity to get away; he threw himself head-first over the short wall of the second floor — an eight-foot drop — then ran to the south side of the ramp near the bike path, the report says.
When officers realized he was gone, they deduced he was in the river when "all the geese were flying away," said Sgt. Tony Teal.
They spotted him "trying to hide behind a bridge piling," Sherwin said, and when an officer directed his flashlight at the area, the man "went completely under water."
The officer yelled at him to get out of the water before he died, the report says, and the suspect waded across the river to the side near the Law Enforcement Center, where other officers were waiting.
The temperature around the time was 8 degrees, according to the National Weather Service at La Crosse, Wis.
The man was taken to Mayo Clinic Hospital - Saint Marys Campus to be evaluated, then released. He was ticketed with disorderly conduct and fleeing police on foot and released, Teal said.
The incident could have ended tragically if the man had stumbled in the river and wasn't able to get up, he said.