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Search for missing man to resume

Game, Fish and Parks Conservation Officer Evan Meyer, left, and Davison County Search and Rescue worker Travis Hohn use a boat Tuesday to search the James River near Highway 38 for a 35-year-old Mitchell man who fled from police by jumping in the river late Monday night. (Laura Wehde/Republic Photo)

Authorities plan to resume the search today for a man who jumped into the floodwaters of the James River along Shanard Road in an attempt to escape police late Monday night.

Mitchell Public Safety Chief Lyndon Overweg said Tuesday that a 35-year-old white Mitchell man jumped into the river and began swimming southeast with the current at approximately 11:15 Monday night. Overweg declined to divulge the man's name but indicated that authorities fear the worst.

"There's a chance he got out," Overweg said. "If he's in the water, it is not very optimistic at this time."

The man's chances for survival hinged on his making it to shore or clinging to a log or other debris, Overweg said.

Just last week, a segment of the James River near Mitchell reached a record flood crest of 25.46 feet. Overweg said the water was 38 degrees on Tuesday afternoon, and the flow included whitecaps and flood-carried debris.

Monday night's events began at about 10:45 with a report of a hit-and-run accident near the spot where East 15th Avenue turns into Park Drive in Mitchell. A vehicle allegedly hit an electrical transformer and some privacy fences.

At 10:58 p.m., police received a report indicating that the same vehicle struck some flood-related barricades near the corner of Gale and Shanard roads, just east of Mitchell and near the James River. The vehicle -- a pickup -- was reportedly driving with no headlights on.

When a police vehicle approached the Gale and Shanard intersection, the man allegedly jumped into the river.

"He just disappeared in the darkness," Overweg said.

Officials from 15 agencies searched the area of the man's disappearance until 3 a.m. Tuesday. Searching resumed later Tuesday morning -- complete with Game, Fish and Parks boats and a plane from the Civil Air Patrol -- but was moved from the area between Shanard Road and Highway 38 to south of Highway 38.

The search was stopped Tuesday afternoon and is scheduled to resume today.

Family and friends of the man have been contacted, Overweg said, and at least two have allowed their homes to be searched.