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Police chase ends with hypothermia

Jessica Cuffman • Aug 27, 2014 at 2:38 PM

Donald Pruitt Jr., 27, was driving a friend’s 2003 Buick east on Ohio 2 at about 4 a.m. Sunday when he caught the attention of Huron police Officer Joshua Hula. Hula started following the Buick in his cruiser, and the Buick exited the freeway onto U.S. 6.

The cruiser followed the Buick through the city until Hula spotted the vehicle cross over the white and yellow lines. The officer flipped on his cruiser’s overhead lights to stop the car, but it kept going. It turned into the Holiday Harbor Marina entrance and started accelerating, hitting 60 mph, the report said.

The Buick eventually hit gravel on a pier and started fishtailing until it went over the edge. It destroyed a dock box, electric pole and a boat dock before going into the water, according to the report.

Hula spotted Pruitt in the water, swimming from the car to a nearby boat. He ordered Pruitt to stop, but lost sight of him. Erie County deputies and two U.S. Border Patrol agents arrived to help in the search, as did Huron police Chief Robert Lippert.

About 45 minutes later, police found Pruitt clinging to a dock in the water, appearing lethargic. Hula extended an arm to pull him out of the water and grabbed a blanket from the cruiser.

“It was obvious that he would need to be treated for hypothermia,” Hula stated in his report.

Firefighters took Pruitt to Firelands Regional Medical Center for treatment. After he was released, deputies booked him into the Erie County Jail on a slew of charges, including failure to comply with the signal of a police officer, obstructing official business, operating a vehicle under the influence and a warrant for felonious assault out of Sandusky County.

Pruitt remains without bond until his appearance Wednesday in Huron Municipal Court.

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