A 23-year-old fugitive foolishly braved winter waters by
swimming across a Hawke's Bay river in a vain attempt to
escape custody, only to find the long arm of the law waiting
patiently with handcuffs on the other side.
The man - known to police by the aliases Abe McLean, Abe
Makae-McLean and Abe Eparaima - had a warrant for his arrest
after breaching his parole conditions, and on Saturday
afternoon police attempted to apprehend him.
Eastern District acting Senior Sergeant Nick Dobson said Abe,
who was travelling in a BMW with two others, allegedly fled
police before also allegedly ramming a police car.
Police were unable to confirm how long the chase lasted or
where it began.
He said several other units joined the pursuit before the BMW
drove to the banks of the Ngaruroro River, near the
Chesterhope Bridge, and Abe dived into the chilly water in a
last gasp bid to escape.
"There was no way we were going to go swimming in the river."
Mr Dobson understood Abe was the only person "attempting to
evade police" of the three originally in the car, while the
other two waited on the banks with police.
He said a few officers simply drove over the bridge and on to
the opposite bank of the river to wait for the their man.
Abe was arrested and charged with failing to stop and
reckless driving. He will appear in Hastings District Court
this morning and the BMW was impounded by police.
The 23-year-old risked hypothermia when he went for his
afternoon dip, with water temperatures about 12C to 14C,
according to MetService charts.
Maritime New Zealand states that in waters of about 10C, the
average person will be semi-conscious or unconscious within
Death from drowning will often occur within two hours and, in
waters of 15C, a person might survive for up to six hours.
Only two weeks prior to Abe's midwinter swim, a naked man was
also arrested on the banks of the Ngaruroro River after he
allegedly stole a car before a police pursuit in the early
hours of June 21.
During that incident, police used road spikes on the vehicle,
which came to a halt on the Fern Hill side of the Chesterhope
At the time, Senior Sergeant Ross Smith said three occupants
fled on foot, and two jumped into the river in an
unsuccessful attempt to evade capture.
Tracking dogs were deployed and the two swimmers located,
including the naked reported mobster, before both were taken
to hospital with mild hypothermia.
"I presume it is because he has dived into the river and
didn't want to drown," Mr Smith said, when wondering why the
man was naked.
Coincidentally, the Hawke's Bay Regional Council lists the
Chesterhope Bridge as a recreational water spot and yesterday
had the site catergorised as "fairly suitably" but just above
"poor" for swimming at this time of the year.