(ARCADIA, Fla.) — Police are searching for a Florida woman who they say disappeared in a river after apparently being pushed into the water by her boyfriend. A search is also under way for the man, who police say fled the scene.
The victim, an African American female in her late teens, and the suspect, a white male in his late 20s or early 30s, were standing on the edge of the Morgan Park Bridge in Arcadia, Fla., Sunday when other park goers began jumping into the Peace River to escape the summer heat, according to Sam Williamson, Chief Deputy of the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department. Witnesses told police the pair appeared to be a couple.
The woman said she did not want to jump because she could not swim, witnesses told police, but the man, believed to be her boyfriend, pushed her anyway. The woman did not come up right away so the boyfriend jumped in after her, Williamson said. Another man, later identified as Andrew Skevington, also jumped in after her. Both men struggled with the strong current and were unable to reach her.
The woman was briefly able to grab a pylon and a nearby boater helped the men to shore but was unable to rescue the woman. She disappeared underwater and hasn’t been seen since, Williamson said.
Once on shore, witnesses say the two men grabbed their belongings, including the woman’s, and fled when law enforcement arrived.
Skevington was arrested for accessory after the fact for manslaughter because he helped the unidentified male flee the scene, Williamson said. He is currently in the DeSoto County Jail. Skevington is from the DeSoto County area and did not know the couple, who police believe are from Tampa, 100 miles away. Police are still searching for the missing woman, and trying to find the man.
“What started out as a playful type thing on the bridge turned into manslaughter because they pushed this girl who couldn’t swim into the river,” Williamson said. “It was maybe an accident and now is more sinister.”
If found, the man will face manslaughter charges, Williamson said. Police are still investigating the situation.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Elizabeth Cohen and Sandee LaMotte, CNN
Steve Visser, CNN
Yazhou Sun and Sophia Yan, CNN
Rafael Romo and Emanuella Grinberg, CNN