Cape Girardeau man drives car into Illinois River to avoid capture in police chase

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Jesse Dorris

CARROLLTON, Ill. – A Cape Girardeau man is facing charges tied to a wild police chase Tuesday in Greene County, Illinois.

According to a Greene County Sheriff Robert McMillen, Jerseyville police contacted deputies just before 1:45 p.m. on August 1 regarding a vehicle pursuit over a traffic violation.

The deputy sheriff in Greene County noticed the suspect travelling northbound on US 67 and began to follow the vehicle, McMillen said. The deputy sheriff was coordinating with the Carrollton Police Department to stop the vehicle.

When the driver of the suspect vehicle saw the Carrollton Police Department’s squad cars ahead, he accelerated and almost hit a southbound motorist head-on as he entered Carrollton city limits. Both the deputy sheriff and Carrollton police units began to pursue the vehicle at this time.

Police officers from White Hall, Roodhouse, and Greenfield police departments joined the pursuit, McMillen said.

As the suspect approached the Kampsville Ferry landing that crosses the Illinois River, he drove the vehicle into the river. The suspect, identified as 47-year-old Jesse Dorris, got out of the vehicle and started swimming toward the Calhoun County side of the river. The ferry tried to rescue Dorris, but he resisted all efforts. The deputy sheriff and police officers from White Hall and Greenfield got a ride across the river on a civilian boat.

Dorris reached land first and fled on foot through a campsite in Kampsville, McMillen said. Dorris found an unoccupied pickup truck drove off, grazing a police officer. The deputy sheriff tried to disable the pickup truck by shooting out the rear tire. An eyewitness offered her vehicle to the police officers.

The pursuit continued north toward Pike County. Shortly after Dorris entered Pike County, a deputy forced the truck he was driving into the ditch around 2:50 p.m. Dorris was taken into custody without further incident.

Dorris remains in custody at Greene County Jail awaiting charges. He was wanted out of Pemiscot County in Missouri for car theft.

The car pulled from the Illinois River is totaled, McMillen said. Authorities are working to determine if that vehicle was stolen.