EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – It’s a place many go to cool down and soak up some sun on hot summer days.
But the Eau Claire Police Department says a man used the Chippewa River to try to avoid going to jail, jumping into the water and leading officers on a one mile chase.
Lt. Tim Golden said it all started with a call from a witness around 10:30 Sunday morning saying someone was trying to break into a downtown Eau Claire business.
“We believe that a window had been removed from the business and the person had made entry,” Golden said.
When he arrived at Bob Smith Window Cleaning on Gibson Street, Golden said he followed the male suspect down the street to the bank of the river.
Court records identify the man as Robert L. Cody.
The police lieutenant said he tried to talk the 30-year-old from Missouri out of taking the plunge.
“He indicated that he didn't want to be taken into custody. He claimed to have a warrant out of state. Despite trying to negotiate with him he dove into the river,” Golden said.
After the man jumped in, Golden said he proceeded to swim with the current down the river.
Eau Claire Fire and Rescue was quickly dispatched to the river.
At the Lake Street Bridge, firefighters threw Cody two rescue ropes as he was passing by.
“He refused to take one that was very close to him,” Golden said.
The swimming suspect then continued down the river.
Firefighters were also stationed on the Water Street Bridge and threw him two lifejackets.
This time the suspect grabbed one of them, Golden said.
Police said when the man got to the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire footbridge he became too exhausted to continue on his getaway swim and surrendered.
“He was contacted on the water by police and firefighters in a boat. Basically they had him go over to shore and that’s where he was taken into custody,” Golden said.
Although he came out of it uninjured, police say his stunt won’t be making much of a splash.
Court records show Cody has been charged with burglary, obstructing an officer and criminal damage to property.
Golden said the man may even have to pay for his own rescue.
“There must have been 20 different city employees trying to assist and facilitate in this guy’s rescue. That’s very expensive. He’s putting additional lives in danger,” Golden said.
Cody appeared in Eau Claire County Court on Monday morning for his initial appearance.