Burglar jumps into river, tries to escape after victim follows him, police say

Michael Hernandez
Michael Hernandez

A suspected burglar being followed by his victim jumped into the St. John’s River on Saturday, in an attempt to evade authorities, according to the Visalia Police Department.

A man called police around 2:52 p.m. Saturday to say he interrupted someone burglarizing his home near Lovers Lane and Mill Creek.

Police say the man chased the burglar, identified as Michael Hernandez, 40, in his own vehicle until Hernandez abandoned his vehicle at St. John’s River near McAuliff Road, according to a department news release.

Hernandez then ran and jumped into the river to make his escape, police said.

Visalia police, Exeter police and the fire department searched but didn’t find the suspect until three hours later, when a witness told officers he was back near the river.

When officers tried to approach him, Hernandez jumped back in the river, police say. The water was too swift, and he swam back to shore near thick vegetation and brush. He was submerged in the water up to his mouth, police say, and continued to resist.

A K-9 was sent out and officers struggled with Hernandez in knee-deep water to arrest him.

The burglary victim positively identified Hernandez as the person who stole jewelery from his home, police said, but the items were not recovered.

After being treated at the hospital, Hernandez was booked into the Tulare County Adult Pre-Trial Facility on suspicion of burglary, resisting arrest, methamphetamine possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Ashleigh Panoo: 559-441-6010, @AshleighPanoo
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