Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Wanted man rescued by Tampa officer after trying to swim away from police

TAMPA — A man fleeing a traffic stop crashed early Monday, then jumped into the chilly Hills­borough River, leaving behind a pistol, a ski mask and his two teenage sons, police said.

An officer had to swim to the man's rescue as he foundered in the cold, dark water.

Around 12:05 a.m. Monday, an officer saw three males in a car that had its windows tinted too darkly, a possible violation of state law. Police said a check on the tag showed the car was registered to a 48-year-old Dade City woman.

Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said that the behavior of the males, the car's ownership and its heavily tinted windows aroused the officer's suspicion, so he tried to pull them over. But the driver, Craig Kendrick, 34, of Zephyrhills, sped away, lost control and crashed near Rome Avenue and Columbus Drive.

Kendrick sprang from the car and ran, police said. Two teenagers, later identified as Kendrick's 13- and 16-year-old sons, also tried to flee but were caught about a block away.

The officer who followed the Kia called for backup as Kendrick jumped into the 64-degree Hillsborough River and swam about 30 yards out.

Kendrick soon began struggling and screamed for help. Officers yelled for him to swim ashore, but he refused, police said.

Minutes later, Officer Mark Vazquez ripped the back seat from a police car, jumped in the river, extended the seat to Kendrick and brought him to shore, where other officers were waiting with ropes to pull him in.

Tampa Fire Rescue paramedics treated Kendrick at the scene for hypothermia and chest pain. He was taken to Tampa General Hospital for further examination, then transferred to jail.

A check of Kendrick's record showed he was wanted in Hernando County on armed robbery charges. Police also found a loaded 9mm pistol and ski mask in his car.

Police later learned that the car had not been stolen.

Kendrick was charged with fleeing and attempting to elude arrest, driving with a suspended license, child neglect, being a felon in possession of a weapon, and the two charges for which he was wanted — armed robbery and grand theft.

He had been arrested a dozen times in Hillsborough County, mostly on drug charges, according to jail records.

Wanted man rescued by Tampa officer after trying to swim away from police 12/21/09 [Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 9:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Senate rejects slimmed down Obamacare repeal as McCain votes no (w/video)


    WASHINGTON — The Senate early Friday rejected a new, scaled-down Republican plan to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, derailing the Republicans' seven-year campaign to dismantle President Barack Obama's signature health care law and dealing a huge political setback to President Donald Trump.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. leaves the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 27, 2017, after a vote as the Republican majority in Congress remains stymied by their inability to fulfill their political promise to repeal and replace "Obamacare" because of opposition and wavering within the GOP ranks. [Associated Press]
  2. Pasco sheriff's team of volunteer Jeep drivers go where few dare

    Public Safety

    Times Staff Writer

    He got the text in the middle of treating patients. He was needed in the morning — and so was his dark blue 2002 Jeep Wrangler.

    The Pasco County Sheriff's Office's newly-formed Volunteer Jeep Search and Rescue Unit stops for a moment to wait for fellow Jeep drivers to catch up during a mock search-and-rescue exercise and off-road training in Shady Hills in June. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  3. The Daystarter: What's next after Senate rejects Obamacare repeal; Bucs open training camp today; Comic Con invades Tampa; get ready for back to school


    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    Jermaine Ferguson takes the $5 entry fee from a visitor at Fort De Soto Park on Wednesday. Pasco County has done away with recession era park fees. What about Pinellas and Hillsborough counties? [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  4. The Killers coming to Hard Rock Live in Orlando


    They're reliable festival headliners, and they're about to embark on a North American arena tour.

    The KIllers
  5. Back to School 2017: What you need to know


    With the start of classes less than three weeks away, the Tampa Bay Times' back-to-school special report debuts today.

    The Times' annual back-to-school coverage debuts today with information families can use to start the new year. [Times files]