Man jumps in Cornwall Canal to evade police

Paramedics with Cornwall-SDG Paramedic Services wheel a man on a stretcher from Lock 19 on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019 after he jumped in the canal to evade the Cornwall Regional Task Force. Cornwall firefighters rescued him from the canal. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

Newswatch Exclusive

CORNWALL – Cornwall firefighters had to rescue a man from the Cornwall Canal early Thursday morning after he jumped in trying to get away from officers with the Cornwall Regional Task Force.

The Cornwall Fire Service and Cornwall-SDG Paramedic Services were called to the south end of Haulage Road, off Second Street West, just before 1 a.m. where a man was in the water on the west side of Lock 19 (Gleeson’s Lock).

A witness, who asked not to be identified, said the man was running from the cops. “I think he made a bad choice and went over the edge. They did manage to pull him out. He might have some minor injuries. He was able to climb up the ladder,” the witness said.

The witness said another person was arrested at the scene. “One was already in handcuffs previously before they got the other gentleman out of the canal.”

SD&G O.P.P. Sgt. Greg Smith told Cornwall Newswatch a minivan was under surveillance down by the water when officers moved in to intercept the suspected contraband tobacco smugglers.

A Pontiac Montana minivan sits in the ditch at the south end of Haulage Road on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019 after a tobacco-related bust. Police believe four people were in the van — two were arrested and two are still at large. One of the two arrested had to be rescued from the Cornwall Canal. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

The Pontiac Montana minivan ended up in the ditch at the end of Haulage Road. “When the police moved in to prevent the van from taking off, he backed into the ditch and then all the occupants fled on foot,” Smith said.

“A number of persons took off on foot. Two of those persons have been located. O.P.P. canine attended and immediately did a track for the suspects. Two suspects were located. We believe there were four in total,” Smith said.

The man who ended up in the canal was being assessed at the Cornwall Community Hospital, Smith said.

Charges are pending under the Excise Act for possession of contraband tobacco.

“Two (suspects), we believe, are still out there, on land.”

SD&G paramedics and Cornwall firefighters use ladders as they work to rescue a man from the Cornwall Canal at Lock 19 on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. The man was assessed at the Cornwall Community Hospital after jumping in the water to get away from police. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

Smith couldn’t say whether the minivan, which had the name of a tree service company on it and a local phone number, was stolen or belonged to one of the suspects, because it was early in the investigation.

Officers used a wheelbarrow to take out an assortment of fine cut tobacco and finished tobacco products from the van.

An investigation by the Cornwall Regional Task Force is ongoing.