A man dies after his Mercedes flies 337 feet across the San Joaquin River following a police chase
Allen Kim, CNN
(CNN) — A 58-year-old man has died after launching his car approximately 337 feet off of a cliff and across the San Joaquin River following a police chase.
The man was identified as David Callahan from Fresno, said Tony Botti of the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office.
Fresno police officers began pursuing Callahan in what police identified as a 2014 Mercedes on Monday morning after he swerved and nearly hit a patrol car, police told CNN affiliate KFSN.
Police began their pursuit and followed Callahan. They chased him for approximately five miles as he drove between 30 to 40 mph before he suddenly took off, investigators told KFSN. Police then called off the chase, and it was not immediately clear why.
The Fresno Police Department has not responded to a request for comment from CNN.
California Highway Patrol’s Mike Salas told CNN that the police determined that Callahan drove northbound on Dickenson Avenue at speeds of over 100 mph and drove straight off the cliff instead of veering with the road.
“It appears the driver did not make any effort to stop, brake, or avoid a collision and was launched up and over the water of the San Joaquin River,” Mike Salas of the California Highway Patrol said in a statement.
The cliff had a 60 foot elevation drop to the opposing side of the river, police said. The vehicle managed to get across the river and it sheared off the tops of trees as it plummeted to the ground. His car landed wheels down and rolled over 80 feet before resting on its wheels.
“He unfortunately was traveling at a speed between 100-118 miles per hour,” Salas told KFSN. “He left the dirt road embankment off the San Joaquin River from Dickenson Road and traveled a distance of approximately 337 feet.”
Callahan was wearing a seat belt but died as a result of “injuries on scene,” according to the police.
Investigators did not find alcohol, drugs or weapons inside of the car. However, police told CNN they have reason to believe he was “driving under the influence of a controlled substance” and that he was dealing with personal emotional problems that may have led to “his decision to elude apprehension.”
It is unclear if driving off the cliff was intentional or accidental, police said.
According to KFSN, Callahan was convicted of domestic violence and resisting arrest in 2004, and he has been charged with three felonies and two misdemeanors in Monterey County over the past 15 years. Police were also called to his family’s home in July after his wife told Fresno County Sheriff’s deputies that he pushed her and was using drugs.