Quebec police watchdog says man who threw himself into river during police chase has died

Sûreté du Québec insignia on a SQ officer in St-Pacide, Quebec, Saturday, May 22, 2021. Mario Beauregard/The Canadian Press

Quebec’s police watchdog says a man who threw himself into a river in the Lanaudière region early Monday during a pursuit by provincial police has died.

The Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI) said Sûreté du Québec (SQ) divers found the man’s body in the water. He was taken to hospital, where his death was confirmed.

Earlier in the day, the SQ reported shortly that divers and a helicopter were on the way to Saint-Lin-Laurentides to participate in the search efforts after the police chase.

Police said that patrolling officers initially tried to intercept the man around 1:30 a.m. on Route 335 because his vehicle’s headlights were off.

Upon seeing the patrol car, the driver chose to speed up and the pursuit began, according to police.

Read more: Quebec police watchdog investigating after police chase on highway ends in two deaths

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The man then allegedly abandoned his car in the private entrance of a residence on 12th Avenue, not far from where the chase started.

He then got out of the car and jumped into the Rivière Jourdain, according to the SQ. It appears no one in the area witnessed the incident.

The BEI has launched an independent investigation into the case. The bureau investigates whenever a civilian is injured or killed during a police intervention.

In a statement, the BEI said the 27-year-old man had allegedly called for help after jumping into the river but police officers lost sight of him.

The search was underway in the water and on the banks of the river that crosses the municipality of Saint-Lin-Laurentides.

with files from Global News’ Kalina Laframboise

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