A wanted felon who attempted to escape police Tuesday by swimming across San Francisquito Creek at the Palo Alto Baylands during high tide went underwater halfway, only to be rescued by an officer, pulled back to shore, arrested and later booked into jail, police said.
Lee James Daniels of Menlo Park tried to flee Palo Alto police Jan. 28 by swimming across San Francisquito Creek at a high tide. He was later booked into jail.
At about 9:32 a.m. on Jan. 28, an officer on patrol saw Daniels riding a bicycle on Embarcadero Road near East Bayshore Road. The two made eye contact, after which Daniels rode into an office complex in the 1700 block of Embarcadero and disappeared, police said. The police officer found his abandoned bicycle soon after and confirmed Daniels was wanted on a felony probation-violation warrant and a misdemeanor warrant for giving false information to police.
Other officers joined in the search and one spotted Daniels running westbound on the levee behind the Baylands Athletic Center at 1900 Geng Road. The officer chased him on foot until Daniels jumped into the creek and started to swim across it northbound, towards East Palo Alto. About halfway across, police said he went underwater and did not resurface.
Police said high tide Tuesday morning was at 10:08 a.m. and that it can be up to 10 feet deep in that part of the creek. The officer, thinking Daniels could be drowning, jumped in to bring him back to shore.
Another officer pulled his partner up to the levee, but Daniels refused any help and instead rested against the nearly vertical embankment at the shore. Police said the levee was about 10 to 12 feet above water level at this time, so there was no safe way for them to pull Daniels back up to the levee, as he continued to refuse to get out of the creek.
A Palo Alto Fire Department crew arrived and used a rope rescue system to physically lower an officer down the steep embankment. He placed a harness on Daniels and firefighters pulled both of them back up, after which Daniels was arrested "without incident," police stated in a press release.
Daniels complained of pain from injuries in his leg and head from jumping into the creek. He was medically evaluated at Stanford Hospital before being taken to Santa Clara County Main Jail. He was booked for misdemeanor resisting arrest and is also on probation in San Mateo County for a prior narcotics possession conviction.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Palo Alto Police Department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.