LEHIGHTON — Lehighton police said it started in the lot behind the borough police department around 9:30 a.m. Monday.
Police Chief Neal Ebbert was taking Luke Zetts, 18, of Weissport to a police vehicle. Zetts was arrested on a warrant, accused of going AWOL from a Marine Corps camp.
Officers said once outside, Zetts, while handcuffed, got behind the police chief, choked him and then pulled him to the ground. There was a struggle and then police said Zetts ran off.
More than half a dozen police agencies were called in to help find Zetts. Officers said he ran down to the Lehigh River and jumped in, handcuffs and all, swimming and floating for about a mile.
Finally, police said they got him in Weissport.
“When I looked out, I saw a whole lot of cop cars and for me and anybody who knows me will tell you, I grabbed my camera and started snapping pictures and then later I walked over because I saw some neighbors over there. And that was all they pretty much knew,” said Tammy Moyer of Weissport.
“He was in his street clothes, he didn’t have any shoes on,” said Matt Maupin of Weissport who saw Zetts pulled from the river.
In all, police said Zetts was in the water for about 20 minutes and when they got to him, they said he surrendered without a fight.
“To escape from the service like that is, I don’t know, it’s kind of crazy because they’re going to catch you anyway,” said Scott Fritzinger of Weissport.
Zetts was locked up in Carbon County on $75,000 bail. Police said he left the military because of depression and having suicidal thoughts. They said Zetts told them when he was arrested, he just “freaked out.”
Chief Ebbert, was examined at a hospital and is expected to be fine.