Man flees cops; has to be rescued

A man believed to be fleeing police had to be rescued from the Waikato river after getting into trouble half way across. 

The man, believed to be aged in his late 20s, jumped into the river near the Rotowaro rail bridge in Huntly about 8.30pm. 

Huntly Fire Brigade senior station officer Lance Gribble said the man started struggling about half way.

"He tried to swim across to get away from police and got himself to one of the pylons and was sort of hanging on and decided he couldn't swim any further."

Huntly firefighters received the call from police requesting the brigade's community rescue boat, he said. 

"It was just on dusk so there was still visibility. We had another truck on the town side of the bridge and they were liaising and could see him as well, they were above him on the bridge directly looking at him."Three firefighters and one police officer headed out on the boat and managed to pull the man on-board. 

Gribble understood the man had put up "a bit of a struggle" as rescuers got him aboard. He emerged from the river in handcuffs, soaking wet in shorts and a top.

"He was a little agitated, but by that time he realised what was the go."

The man had been in the water for about 15 minutes. Gribble said he was lucky he was able to grab the pylon as the river can be decieving. 

"He was probably quite fortunate he decided to stay where he was, the river is pretty fast flowing - it often looks calm but there are some quite strong undercurrents in there and it has caught out people in the past."

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This was about the third rescue of similar circumstances Huntly firefighters have attended on the Waikato River in the last year, said Gribble.

In November the Huntly rescue boat was requested after a car went into the river at Ngaruawahia. The car was reportedly racing another vehicle when the driver lost control and crashed into the river on Great South Road between Market Street and Old Taupiri Road.

The 19-year-old driver and his 17 and 31-year-old male passengers managed to make their way to shore before police and fire rescue boats arrived.

 - Waikato Times

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