A man fleeing from police had to be rescued Wednesday after driving his pickup off a pier at North Tongue Point and into a side channel of the Columbia River.
Timofey Erofeeff, 27, from Scotts Mills in Marion County, had been spotted trespassing on boats. Officers made contact with him about 10 a.m. as he was driving a red F-150, police said.
They decided to charge him with second-degree criminal trespass and were advised to take him into custody for a Deschutes County parole violation. He took off as they approached his truck to make the arrest, starting a short pursuit.
Officers did not follow Erofeeff when he drove onto a pier, but he continued and launched the pickup off the end into the Columbia before exiting the vehicle. He swam out a couple of hundred feet into the frigid river. The Coast Guard was called and prepared a helicopter to rescue him, but the mission was called off when he swam back.
The pier was too high for Erofeeff to be reached by responders, who passed him a life jacket and flotation ring. Fishermen on the nearby vessel Pacific Wind responded to rescue him. Employees from nearby shipwright WCT Marine & Construction Inc. pulled him out of the water into a skiff and brought him to shore.
All told, Erofeeff spent about 20 minutes in the icy water.
“I’m thankful the men from WCT Marine and fishing vessel (Pacific Wind) were there and willing to help,” said Deputy Astoria Police Chief Eric Halverson. “Mr. Erofeeff should be thankful too.”
Erofeeff was taken by Medix Ambulance Service to Columbia Memorial Hospital, treated for hypothermia and released to an officer.
He was eventually lodged in the Clatsop County Jail on charges of second-degree criminal trespass, parole violation, interfering with a police officer, attempt to elude a police officer, reckless driving and third-degree escape. He has previous arrests in Clackamas County for burglary and Deschutes County for theft.
A fuel sheen was visible where Erofeeff entered the water. The police have been in contact with the Coast Guard about retrieving the vehicle, but have not formulated a plan yet, Halverson said. Divers were attempting to locate the vehicle Thursday.
“It’s in the river for now,” Halverson said.