An unidentified man drowned on Saturday afternoon after fleeing from Missoula Police officers and driving his vehicle into a field and then a pond near Target Range Elementary School.

Missoula Police Department spokesperson Lydia Arnold described how the chase began.

“The driver of the vehicle failed to yield, and the officer engaged in a vehicle pursuit with the suspect vehicle,” said Arnold. “The pursuit started within the city limits of Missoula and continued into the county. Missoula police officers at one point lost the vehicle, but a short time later, the vehicle the suspect vehicle drove past two other Missoula police officers, and those two officers reengaged in the pursuit.”

At one point, police were able to get the vehicle to stop, but not for long.

“The vehicle drove into a field near Target Range Elementary School,” she said. “The Missoula police officers in pursuit were able to get the vehicle to come to a stop. However, the driver of the vehicle decided to maneuver around the Missoula police officers cars and took off. The local police officers did not reengage in a pursuit.”

At one point, officers saw the taillights of the suspect vehicle suddenly disappear.

“The police officers noticed that the taillights of the vehicle vanished, and when they went to check on it they observed that the suspect driver had driven into a pond and had gotten out of the vehicle,” she said. “The suspect male was in the water and relatively close to shore. Noticing the temperature of the air as well as the cold temperatures of the water, Missoula police officers did everything they could to encourage the suspect male to come to shore. The suspect male instead chose to swim away from officers and officers lost sight of the suspect.”

Arnold said the chase ended tragically.

“A Missoula County Search and Rescue dive team assisted and recovered the body a short time later and the investigation has been turned over to the Montana Department of Criminal Investigation,” she said.

No other details of the incident will be made available until the Department of Criminal Investigation wraps up its investigation.

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