La. Man Jumps Into Lake to Avoid DWI Arrest

He was charged with DWI, resisting arrest and careless driving

By Tierney McAfee
|  Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012  |  Updated 9:06 AM CDT
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La. Man Jumps Into Lake to Avoid DWI Arrest

Thomas Robert Harter “bolted” toward the edge of the bridge and dropped 20 feet into the lake when asked to perform a field sobriety test.

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A Louisiana man who jumped off the Causeway bridge and into a lake during a traffic stop was arrested for the eighth time on drunken driving charges.

Thomas Robert Harter was charged with DWI, resisting arrest, careless driving and as a fugitive on outstanding warrants for hit-and-run and reckless driving, The Times-Picayune reported.

Causeway police stopped Harter mid-bridge Sunday evening after another driver reported him swerving and speeding.

Causeway General Manager Carlton Dufrechou said Harter got out of the car sporting a green St. Patrick’s Day necklace and swaying and smelling of alcohol. When the officer asked him to perform field sobriety tests, Harter agreed — but then allegedly “bolted” toward the edge of the bridge and dropped 20 feet into the lake.

The water was rough, with winds between 15 and 20 mph, Dufrechou said.

Rescuers found Harter half an hour later clinging to a utility building at the base of the bridge. They tossed him a life ring and hauled him back up to the bridge — and into jail.

Harter is being held without bond on the fugitive warrants and on a $15,000 bond on the alleged driving violations.

"He's a lot better off than being crabmeat," Dufrechou told the Times-Picayune.

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