Man dumps car in river, swims across in futile escape bid
Published 2:45 pm, Thursday, June 2, 2011
A 38-year-old New Milford man took an unusual and difficult route while trying to evade police -- across the Housatonic River without a bridge, police say.
The episode began Tuesday around 8 p.m. when police attempted to pull over Robert Schwarz of Buckingham Lane after they say he failed to stop for a red light at the intersection of Main and Bridge streets.
Mr. Schwarz stopped his car a short distance away on South Main Street, but police said when an officer approached, he fled the scene and sped toward Grove Street with officers in pursuit.
Mr. Schwarz slowed enough to let a passenger, Irving Surles of New Milford, out of the car, police said, before careening his Honda Civic into the river at the Addis Park boat ramp along Grove Street.
Police said Mr. Schwarz got out of the car and continued to try to elude them by swimming across the 150-foot-wide river.
After reaching the west bank of the Housatonic, Mr. Schwarz attempted to hide in the woods behind some railroad cars south of the Kimberly-Clark Corporation mill on Pickett District Road, police said.
When officers found him, he started a foot chase, police said. They caught up with him behind an industrial building, where they had to use a Taser to subdue him, police said.
Mr. Schwarz, who was treated at New Milford Hospital, faced a bevy of charges.
Police charged him with driving while intoxicated, second-degree reckless endangerment, reckless driving, failure to obey a control signal, interfering with an officer, disobeying the signal of an officer, and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license.
Mr. Surles, who was not injured, said he was unaware why Mr. Schwarz refused to stop for the police.
He said as Mr. Schwarz headed toward the river, he had slowed long enough to let him out of the car.
"Then he just dumped it,'' said Mr. Surles, who was not charged with any offense.
Police divers hauled up the submerged Honda Civic the next day from about 20 feet of river water.