CUSHING, Maine — A 28-year-old Warren man was in jail Monday after allegedly crashing his car, running from police, wading into a river and then being dragged by the hair into a boat to save him from drowning.
Justin McLellan has been charged with operating while under the influence, failure to report an accident, leaving the scene of a personal injury accident and operating after suspension. He remained at the Knox County Jail on a probation hold after Sunday’s incident.
According to police reports, McLellan crashed a 1996 maroon Chevy on River Road in Cushing on Sunday. Deputy John Palmer went to the scene.
After arriving, Palmer asked McLellan to put his hands in the air. McLellan began to, but then shoved his hands back into his pants pockets.
According to Palmer’s report, the deputy drew his gun, and McLellan started to run toward a rock and dirt embankment. McLellan then slid down the 30-foot embankment and ran down the shoreline of the Saint George River.
When McLellan turned and saw the deputy was chasing him, he walk into the river. He went about 75 yards into the water and became completely submerged, the report stated. The deputy pursued him.
Other Knox County Sheriff’s Office and Thomaston police officers arrived on the scene. They borrowed a Boston whaler boat from Lyman Morse Boatbuilding Co.
The police launched the boat and threw a rope to McLellan, who refused to take it, saying he did not want to be arrested. The officers steered the boat closer to him and offered the rope to him again. He grabbed it, but did not pull himself in.
McLellan started to go under when Detective Sgt. Reginald Walker grabbed the man by the hair and helped pull him into the boat.
“McLellan continued to go under and had stopped swimming,” Walker wrote in his report. “I grabbed Justin by the hair as he went under again. I lifted Justin into the boat.”
McLellan was then taken to land.
“[The officers] went in the water trying to save him,” Knox County Sheriff Donna Dennison said Monday. “The guy almost drowned.”
McLellan was taken to Pen Bay Medical Center where he was treated for injuries related to the car crash. He was then released to Knox County Jail.
Maine State Police and Cushing Rescue also went to the scene.