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La. man jumps off Lake Ponchartrain bridge to avoid DUI arrest, police say

Lake Pontchartrain Causeway
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(CBS) Metairie, La. - A Louisiana man reportedly jumped off a bridge during a traffic stop in an attempt to avoid a DUI arrest.

He survived.

The Times-Picayune reports 41-year-old Thomas Robert Harter was rescued and then arrested on charges of DUI, resisting arrest and careless driving on Sunday after leaping 20 feet into Lake Pontchartrain during a traffic stop on the Causeway bridge.

Police stopped Harter who was allegedly swerving and speeding.  Officers say he then "bolted" towards the edge of the bridge and jumped, immediately after being asked to perform field sobriety tests.

An officer reportedly got his hands on Harter before he jumped, but it was too late, and he plunged into rough, cold water, police said.

"We were concerned that the current would just take him away," Dufrechou said.

About 15 minutes later, Harter was spotted clinging to a utility building at the base of the bridge. Rescue crews hoisted him from the water.

The bridge was closed to traffic for about 40 minutes while police were dealing with the incident, said Causeway Bridge General Manager Carlton Dufrechou.

The incident marks Harter's eighth arrest on drunken-driving charges. He was wearing a green St. Patrick's Day necklace and smelled of alcohol at the time, police said.

Harter is being held without bond on outstanding warrants for hit-and-run reckless driving. He is also being held on $15,000 bond on the alleged drunk driving violations.

As for being in jail, bridge manager Dufrechou said of Harter, "he's a lot better off than being crabmeat."

  • Crimesider Staff

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