Search for alleged teen car thief complicated by swollen, fast-moving Mississippi River

CHALMETTE, LA (WVUE) - The St. Bernard Sheriff's Office is conducting a search and rescue effort along with the U.S. Coast Guard and the New Orleans Harbor Police to find a 14-year-old boy who they say jumped into the Mississippi River following a vehicle pursuit, Sheriff James Pohlmann said.

"He said he was yelling for help and appeared struggling in the water," Pohlmann said. "That's when we notified the Coast Guard right away and attempted to keep an eye out on his whereabouts, but as he continued east, we lost contact with him."

Shortly before 2 a.m. on Thursday, deputies were attempting to conduct a traffic stop on a silver Infiniti FX35 near the intersection of Paris Rd. and Casa Calvo St. in Chalmette. The vehicle, later determined to be reported stolen out of Orleans Parish on Tuesday, refused to stop and fled at a high rate of speed southbound on Paris Rd., disregarding the traffic signal at St. Bernard Hwy., and headed onto the Chalmette Ferry landing, investigators said.

The vehicle then left the roadway and crashed into the guardrail of the ferry landing, becoming disabled.

The driver, believed to be the 14-year-old, ran southbound on the ferry landing. He was last seen in the Mississippi River, on the east side of the Chalmette Ferry landing.

"All I'm worried about is if he's going to be alright, how it's going to turn out," said family member Ronnie Brown. "He ain't ever did nothing to deserve this right here. (Explicit) is crazy. He was a good person though."

The search and rescue effort for the 14-year-old is still underway, but complicating the search is the height and speed of the river.

"But the most difficult thing is that we have a 14-year-old that's missing in the river," Pohlmann said. "That's the bottom line. No matter what the circumstances are, we are going to try and locate and hope the best. But as more time goes on, we do realize it becomes more difficult and at some point, it will become ethane than a rescue effort it will become a search effort."

The passenger in the vehicle, a 15-year-old boy, exited the vehicle and fled on foot, but was apprehended by deputies. He was booked with resisting arrest, possession of stolen property and obstruction of justice.

The investigation is ongoing and additional charges may be filed.

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