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Man uses excavator as battering ram; drives through wall and into canal

23-year-old William Strenght (Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office) 23-year-old William Strenght (Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office)
Workers try to repair gate that alleged car thief drove through in Harvey (FOX 8 photo) Workers try to repair gate that alleged car thief drove through in Harvey (FOX 8 photo)
HARVEY, LA (WVUE) -

A 23-year-old man used an excavator as a battering ram to elude deputies before driving into the Harvey Canal.

The incident happened on Thursday evening. Police began their pursuit in Gretna and followed the suspect to the Harvey Canal.

Deputies say they first received reports of a suspect stealing an excavator in the 2400 block of the Westbank Expressway. Officers responding to the scene say they saw an excavator being operated in a reckless manner. The driver of the excavator was later identified as 23-year-old William Strength.

Officers say their attempts to apprehend the suspect were hindered as Strength tried to use the 178,000 pound excavator as a battering ram. Jefferson Parish sheriff's deputies say Strength charged the excavator at officers and their vehicles. No one was hit.

After striking numerous trees, power poles and a support beam of the elevated expressway, officials say Strength drove through a wall that separates the Harvey Canal and the lower expressway.

As the excavator went under water, deputies say Strength surfaced and began swimming back-and-forth from one side of the canal to the other.

Officers utilized two flat boats and apprehended the without further incident.

No one was injured in the incident.

Strength was transported to the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center where he was booked. He has been charged with disturbing the peace, public intoxication, criminal damage and traffic offenses.

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