Officers regret not being able to save suspect lost in river - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Officers regret not being able to save suspect lost in river

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When officers tried to get him to swim back to shore, he went under and didn't come back up. That's when a rescue mission turned into a search and recovery. Image source: WLOX News. When officers tried to get him to swim back to shore, he went under and didn't come back up. That's when a rescue mission turned into a search and recovery. Image source: WLOX News.
Divers, dogs and search teams were all looking for King. Image source: WLOX News. Divers, dogs and search teams were all looking for King. Image source: WLOX News.
Divers, dogs and search teams were all looking for King. Image source: WLOX News. Divers, dogs and search teams were all looking for King. Image source: WLOX News.
The crews searched an area and if nothing was found, that started over in a new spot. Image source: WLOX News. The crews searched an area and if nothing was found, that started over in a new spot. Image source: WLOX News.
D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) -

The body of 21-year-old James King was recovered from the Tchoutacabouffa River on Sunday afternoon. According to authorities, King jumped into the river while fleeing from police Saturday after a routine traffic stop. When officers tried to get him to swim back to shore, he went under and didn't come back up. That's when a rescue mission turned into a search and recovery.

Divers, dogs and search teams were all looking for King.

"They're trying to grid it out and take certain sections and divide it out and scour the bottom of the river," said D'Iberville Police Chief Wayne Payne.

The Tchoutacabouffa is riddled with debris from storms, and even old cars used to build its bulkhead. Instances like this call for blackwater diving.

"We say blackwater diving meaning that you can't see what you're diving in or what you're looking for. It's by feel," said Harrison County Fire Marshal Pat Sullivan.

He sent his divers out in teams alongside others from DMR and Wiggins Fire Department. The crews searched an area and if nothing was found, that started over in a new spot.

The City of D'Iberville has experience with the occasional runaway.

"But an instance exactly like this, no, the city of D'Iberville has never had anything like this," said Deputy Police Chief Clay Jones.

One of his officers recognized King at a routine traffic stop. King had several misdemeanors to his name along with an outstanding warrant for his arrest. He left his vehicle and dove into the current of the Tchoutacabouffa.

"No one ever wants anything like this to happen. I don't care what kind of charges a person has on them. We want to make sure that we save lives. That's our job," said Jones.

Once officers realized that King was struggling to stay afloat, they immediately started to strip off their gear and head into the water, but it was too late. For these officers, it was a rescue attempt that will haunt them for years to come.

"They're taking it pretty hard," said Jones.

King's body was pulled from the river just after 2:30 p.m. Sunday. His cause of death won't be officially confirmed until Monday's autopsy.

Copyright 2014 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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