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Police Officer Suffers Hypothermia Chasing Suspect Into River

March 30, 1985

PUEBLO, Colo. (AP) _ A police officer jumped into the icy Arkansas River while pursuing a burglary suspect Friday and had to be rescued when he nearly lost consciousness from hypothermia, authorities said.

Officer Joe Baillargeon, 31, was chasing the suspect along a river trail when the suspect thought he could lose the patrolman by swimming across the Arkansas to a concrete levee on the north side, said Capt. Ruben Archuleta.

Baillargeon followed, but the strong current, the cold and the weight of his uniform apparently caused him to lose control, Archuleta said.

He was rescued by Officer Tim Boies, who also dived into the water. Boies grabbed Baillargeon near a levee and held him there until a fire rescue squad arrived.

″He was in the water about 15 minutes,″ said Bob Roberts of the rescue team. ″He was semi-conscious when we got to him.″

″The current and the cold got to him,″ said Archuleta, police watch commander. ″He was suffering from hypothermia by the time we got him out.″

Boies was chilled but unharmed.

Baillargeon was released from Parkview Episcopal Hospital after receiving treatment for the rapid drop in his body temperature.

As Boies was rescuing Ballargeon, Officers Tim Sutton and Rich Goodard arrested Alfred Christopher Lucero.

Baillargeon had gone to Lucero’s home to question him about a burglary, Archuleta said. Lucero fled and the officer gave chase down a snow-slickened embankment to the river trail below.

Lucero was booked for investigation of first-degree burglary, criminal mischief and resisting arrest.

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