Salem man drowns while fleeing from police

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Salem man drowned Sunday morning while trying to escape police, authorities said.

Christopher Free, 34, was speeding on Mission Street near Winter Street around 12:40 a.m., and an officer with Salem Police Dept. later found his car parked on Liberty Street Southeast. As the officer walked toward Free’s car, he sped off and crashed at Liberty Street Southeast and Mill Street.

At that point, authorities said, Free fled on foot.

The man was found hiding under the High Street Bridge — which has very little vertical clearance — in the water, according to Salem Police Dept. Officers negotiated with Free for 20 minutes, but he refused to come back onto dry land.

Eventually, he submerged and an officer jumped into the water, pulling him out.

Officers started CPR, and Free was taken to a hospital where he was later pronounced dead. An autopsy is planned for Monday.

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