Alabama Police Officers Enter Near-Freezing Lake to Rescue Intoxicated Suspect

Five police officers waded into a near-freezing lake in Calera, Alabama, on Sunday night, February 14, in pursuit of an intoxicated suspect who told them he would “rather drown” than be arrested, Chief David Hyche told local media.

The incident began when one officer drove toward two people he said were behaving suspiciously near a closed Chick-Fil-A. One of them fled on foot around the back of the restaurant and into the Rolling Hills Campground, where he jumped in the lake and swam toward to middle of it.

Officers yelled at the man to come back to shore, but he refused, Hyche said, prompting two officers to go in after him. This body-worn camera footage shows one of the officers entering the lake.

Hyche said they reached the man more than 30 yards out, but began struggling on the way back and called for help. Three further police officers then entered the water, and all six men got safely back to shore.

Air temperatures had dropped to 35 F on Sunday night in Calera, and the water was very cold. After exiting the lake, all five officers were suffering from pre-hypothermia, Hyche said. They and the suspect and were placed in warm cars, Hyche said.

“Five Calera officers risked their lives last night saving the life of a drowning wanted felon,” Hyche wrote on Facebook. “I think that’s significant,” he told the Shelby County Reporter.

The suspect, 24-year-old Austin McCarthy, was found to have several outstanding felony warrants, and was charged with “attempting to elude, public intoxication and resisting arrest,” according to reports. Credit: Calera Alabama Police Dept. via Storyful