An auto theft suspect trying to outrun police at midday today jumped into the Spokane River briefly before the icy water forced him back to shore and into the arms of waiting officers.
Ryan D. Pryor, 32, was taken into custody and transported to a Spokane hospital by ambulance for treatment of hypothermia. He was later booked into Spokane County Jail on charges of possession of a stolen vehicle and attempting to elude police, according to jail records.
His arrest came after officers pursued a stolen Acura SUV from northwest Spokane to the Kendall Yards area along the north bank of the Spokane River just west of Monroe Street.
Officer John Gately said that an officer spotted four men in the SUV exiting from an alley, but the driver failed to stop. That triggered a low-speed pursuit through northwest Spokane. At one point, the three passengers jumped out, leaving the driver alone. The passengers were arrested by police.
Once inside the Kendall Yards area, which is a broad open area under construction, police closed in for an arrest, causing the pursuit speed to increase.
The driver of the SUV attempted to cross a curb on Summit Parkway near Cedar Street, but the force of striking the curb blew out the front left tire.
The suspected jumped from the SUV with police in pursuit, and went over a tall river embankment and down to the river. He tried to flee by plunging into the river.
Pryor was in the river for just over three minutes.
The fire department dispatched several units and was preparing a water rescue when Pryor climbed back onto the bank and was arrested.
Gately said that officers obtained a blanket from a group of homeless people who were camped nearby, and used the blanket to warm up Pryor before moving him back up the steep embankment to a waiting ambulance.
Gately said that Pryor very easily could have died in the icy water had he stayed in it for even a few minutes longer.
The SUV had been stolen from an auto lot in East Spokane. A handgun was left on the floorboard below the front passenger seat.
Gately said he suffered a couple of minor scrapes chasing the man.