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Driver Doesn't Survive 337-Foot Jump Over River

David Callahan of Fresno, Calif., cleared the river but his vehicle rolled
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2020 7:38 AM CST

(Newser) – A California man fleeing police managed to hurtle his car some 340 feet across a river, in a move out of Dukes of Hazzard, though he paid with his life. The driver, identified as 58-year-old David Callahan, was pronounced dead after police caught up with his battered Mercedes sedan. Callahan apparently refused to pull over for Fresno police, who say he was swerving while driving around 8:30am Monday. He was initially traveling no more than 40mph but soon accelerated, reaching city limits as police called off the chase. Soon after, his car traveled about 337 feet across the San Joaquin River, landing in Madera County, per the Fresno Bee and KFSN. "In my 20 years, I've never seen a vehicle travel close to that distance," California Highway Patrol spokesperson Mike Salas tells KFSN.

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Officials confirmed Callahan died in the crash, which saw his vehicle roll before landing upright. Investigators believe his Mercedes was traveling as fast as 118mph as it made the jump at the end of a dead-end road, without any attempt to brake or swerve. "I don't know if maybe he misjudged, [or maybe] he didn't know the river was here," Reynolds tells the Bee. The San Francisco Chronicle reports drugs may have been a factor. "There were some issues going on at the house that may have contributed to him leaving erratically from his residence," Salas tells KFSN, which notes Callahan was reportedly bipolar. The Fresno resident, who had a criminal history, was arrested in July after his wife said he'd pushed her and was using drugs, though charges were never filed. (Read more car crash stories.)

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