ALGONAC (WWJ) – A Border Patrol agent stationed near Port Huron is recovering after he accidentally drove his patrol car into the St. Clair River Wednesday morning.
Patrol Agent in Charge Matt Calmes said the agent was responding to a call for help in an -94 police chase when he quickly swung his car around, lost control, and somehow ended up in the river — in Algonac near the water filtration plant.
“The vehicle ended up in the water, got caught up in the current,” Calmes told WWJ’s Sandra McNeill. “The electronic window didn’t work, so he had to break the window out with his collapsible steel baton. (He) swam back to the seawall, but was unable to pull himself fully out of the water.”
Calmes said the agent clung to the wall for over 45 minutes in 50 degree water until he was almost out of strength.
“He didn’t panic,” Calms said. “…I spoke with the agent and he was only a few moments from losing all strength and all feeling in his arms.”
Luckily, someone on the Canadian side finally heard the agent’s call for help, and he was rescued by a crew from the Clay Township Fire Department.
“He was taken to River District Hospital, here in East China, where he was treated for hypothermia,” Calmes said. “He had his core body temperature drop significantly as he was in and out of the water for about an hour or so.”
The agent has since been released from the hospital. The St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team recovered the squad car, which was a total loss.
Reports suggest the agent might have fallen asleep at the wheel shortly before the accident, but Calmes said that’s not believed to be the case. What exactly happened, he said, remains under investigation.
The agent could face disciplinary action. His name has not been released.
Authorities said the police chase the agent was headed to involved a motorist failing to stop at the Bluewater Bridge in Port Huron.