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Suspect can't swim from cops



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Jim Lumetta on his boat in Bald Eagle Lake. Photo by Patrick McAbee. (click for larger version)
August 24, 2011 - Brandon Twp.- Jim Lumetta has a new nickname after helping police nab a 47-year-old Flint man who attempted to escape police by jumping into Bald Eagle Lake.

Lumetta, a Shelby Township resident who owns a cottage on the lake, said his neighbors here are now calling him "Jim the Bounty Hunter."

"I'll never forget this and no one around the cottage will ever let me forget it either," said Lumetta.

According to Oakland County Sheriff's Office police reports, around 12:56 a.m., a Brandon deputy was called upon to help Michigan State Police troopers and officers from the Burton Police Department who were pursuing a suspect southbound on M-15. The deputy was on Oakwood Road at M-15 when he observed a red Chrysler Sebring pass by at a high rate of speed, followed by Burton PD and MSP patrol cars with lights and sirens activated. The deputy joined the chase in light traffic on M-15.

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The Sebring turned west on Glass Road, then headed south on Dunwoodie, stopping in the front yard of a home in the 2300 block of S. Island Drive. The driver fled on foot and jumped into Bald Eagle Lake and began swimming east toward Allen Court.

Lumetta, who owns a cottage on Allen Road and was vacationing here this week, said he was sitting on his patio with his wife when they saw all the flashing lights coming. An officer drove into his driveway, saw his pontoon boat and ran up.

"We were just enjoying the evening and she said, 'Take me out to the middle of the lake so we can apprehend this fugitive,' and I said, 'OK, fine,'" recalls Lumetta, who adds he was a little concerned because he didn't know the circumstances surrounding the chase. "I was kind of in shock— this was the last thing I expected to happen on a Sunday night."

Lumetta and the officer got on his pontoon boat and he drove toward the man, who was illuminated very well by police spotlights. His boat travels about 20-25 mph, and they reached the man in less than five minutes. The officer reached over the edge of the boat with a stick and told the man to grab it and get in the boat.

The man tried to swim away at first, but finally got in as the officer told him he was surrounded. She handcuffed him and Lumetta drove to the side of the lake where more police officers were waiting. The suspect was cordial to Lumetta during the ride.

"He said twice, 'Sorry for inconveniencing you, sir,'" said Lumetta. "The police were very thankful for me taking them out on the lake without any questions."

The Flint man was turned over to Burton Police officers. The incident began in Burton when an officer said he saw the Sebring parked behind a Burton business and when he approached the vehicle, the driver took off. There was no damage to patrol cars during the chase. The only private property damage was to a landscape light at the home where the Sebring driver finally stopped.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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