PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — A Saturday traffic stop led to a man fleeing into the water before hiding on an island in an attempt to avoid arrest.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a trooper was working on Gandy Boulevard when they attempted to perform a traffic stop on a car for a tinted windshield. The driver pulled into a parking lot but did not stop.
Instead, they drove into a dead-end before taking off on foot, according to a press release. A chase began and the driver is said to have jumped a yacht sales shop's fence before hopping into the water.
At first, troopers say the man, Rashad Cutler, stayed around the docks as other agencies began to arrive to offer assistance. Cutler was thrown rafts and offered ladders, but FHP says he refused, swimming deeper into the water.
Out of "fear he was not going to remain swimming" a trooper and St. Pete Police officer entered the water with a lifesaving flotation device and swam after him. Where did they end up? On an island, according to a press release.
A perimeter was set, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Coast Guard were called out, a helicopter was launched and K-9s from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office put their noses to the sand to find Cutler. And just before dark, he was spotted.
According to a press release, Cutler was hiding under tree roots near where he entered the island. After one final attempt to flee, troopers say Cutler was tased and taken into custody.
Troopers say there were thousands of blank and fraudulent checks, different driver's licenses, a Walmart price maker, a check printer and multiple blank check papers found in Cutler's car.
He also has an active warrant out for his arrest in Pinellas County. Cutler was taken to Bayfront Medical Center as a precaution for the time he spent in the cold water.
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