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‘Diving into jail’: Video shows cornered Florida man jump off bridge after wild police chase

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One man’s daring escape attempt from law enforcement, culminating in his leaping from a high bridge to avoid capture, was seen in footage posted on Facebook from the Lee County, Florida Sheriff’s Department.

Brian Gray, 34, took police on a high-speed chase after he was stopped while driving a van that had been reported stolen. After crashing into concrete barriers on both sides of the Edison Bridge, the man exited the van and ran to the edge, pausing briefly before taking his own giant leap for mankind into the Caloosahatchee River, according to WFLA-TV.

The video indicates a great deal of damage was done to the van during the crash, and unfortunately, it has come to light that Gray’s larceny wasn’t random: He allegedly stole the vehicle from a close family member.

The finale of the chase was filmed and narrated from a police helicopter tracking the suspect.

CBS affiliate WINK-TV reported that a Fort Myers Police Department boat was deployed to pull the suspect –  who was incredibly still alive and trying to swim away – from the river and summarily arrest him.

“Diving into jail,” the sheriff’s office said on Facebook. “While he may not have earned a gold medal for his high dive, Gray did find himself in hot water when he earned pending charges of Grand Theft Auto and Fleeing and Eluding.”

WINK News reported on Wednesday that the owner of the stolen van knew Brian Gray. In fact, the owner says she is his aunt.

Marcella Chacon told the outlet that Gray was just released from prison in October, having been incarcerated for 12 years. Seeing the video of her thieving nephew was disturbing for her – she had allowed him to come over to her house and take a shower only days earlier.

“Because of previous incidences, he was not allowed to stay with me at all because he’s homeless and my husband called me, actually he texted me and told me the van was ‘missing,’” Chacon said.

What is worse, Chacon’s husband reportedly needs the van for his regular doctor visits in Tampa in addition to the van being the only vehicle they can use for recreational travel when their means allow for it.

“I made sure I worked really hard to make sure I got a decent van that we could be low on funds and stuff and go on family road trips and stuff like that,” Chacon said.

Gray allegedly stole the keys to the van from Chacon’s husband while he was asleep, WINK reported.

A video taken on October 27 shows Gray loading up the van with as many belongings as he could quickly steal from Chacon’s home, then fleeing and stupidly reaching speeds of over 100 mph during his criminal escapade.

His aunt said upon learning of the news, “I was angry, I was at the same time still kind of worried about him but then it was like, then I saw all of my hard work to try to provide for my family, my husband is disabled he got a kidney transplant, he knows what we go through.”

While she worries about her nephew, Chacon believes he is unfortunately beyond redemption.

“I would say I want him to get help but I don’t think there’s help for him. I would say the best thing for everybody is for him to be locked back up,” she said.

Witnesses reacted to the incident on the bridge.

“What is falling out of that rig?” Timothy Dillo, of Seattle, said he asked when he witnessed Gray’s jump, according to WINK. “Tough to make that arrest.”

Other Fort Myers residents commented on the man’s dangerous behavior.

“That was reckless,” said John Scherer. “You can’t teach dumb or stupid. They’re natural-born abilities.”

“He could’ve killed a lot of people,” said Donna Avilla, according to WINK-TV.

For their part, CNN anchors John Berman and Brianna Keilar took a break from the network’s daily recommended servings of Trump Derangement and anti-conservative vitriol to show the video and offer their commentary.

“The guy’s lucky to be alive. Lucky he didn’t get seriously hurt,” Berman said after the clip.

And in an understatement, Keilar added “Not a good solution to the situation he was dealing with, for sure.”

Gray was previously arrested and pleaded no contest on charges of first-degree robbery with a weapon in Lee County in July 2009 and released in May 2010, according to court records.

He may have been inspired by another, more successful daredevil crook, Alex Tew, who is currently a fugitive from justice.

According to Yahoo News:

A 26-year-old man who eluded arrest by jumping off the West Norfolk Bridge [Virginia] last month is still on the lam — and he has more charges against him.

Portsmouth police say they saw Alex Tew at a residence in Portsmouth Oct. 30, but they didn’t get him into custody. Tew fled on foot when he saw police, according to a release.

Tew is wanted on a slew of felony charges in Portsmouth — including carjacking, three counts of grand larceny and two counts of abduction, among other charges. He’s also wanted for felony probation violation in Chesapeake and domestic assault in Suffolk.

 

Florida Man’s video made the rounds on Twitter as well:

Frank Webster

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