Terry Raymond Spriggs, wanted on drug and probation violation charges, took his plunge a quarter mile from Cherokee High School on Canton’s Marietta Highway and sailed out of view, according to police.
Police still hadn’t seen or heard from the 42-year-old suspect by Tuesday, and they were asking for the public’s help finding him, said Pacer Cordry, spokesman for Canton Police.
The impromptu Huck Finn-like getaway happened after agents with the Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad — a countywide collaborative drug task force — spotted Spriggs at his mother’s house near the intersection of Westview Street and Marietta Highway, not far from the river.
The agents weren’t looking for the man at the time, but they knew him on sight and knew he had warrants out for his arrest, said Phil Price, the commander of CMANS.
The suspect saw the agents and got a “pretty good head start,” sprinting across Marietta Highway toward the river, Price said. When the agents caught up with him, he hugged the floating log and refused to swim to the shore, police said.
The CMANS agents — by then joined by Canton Police officers — walked along the shore, following the 42-year-old’s wake for about a quarter mile before they lost sight of him behind thick brush and trees on the water’s edge, the Canton Police spokesman said.
Price said officers were immediately concerned Spriggs might drown because the river was higher than usual because of recent rains. They called on the Georgia State Patrol to fly a helicopter over the river to see if Spriggs was trapped in brush or somewhere flailing.
“They couldn’t see him,” Price said Tuesday, adding the “logical assumption” is Spriggs got out of the water quickly and is somewhere “hiding out.”
In addition to the GSP chopper, CMANS and Canton Police also called in the Canton Fire Department, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office and the Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services.
“We had so many people on the river, it’s just hard for me to believe he got by us,” Price said. “Even if he were floundering around, we would’ve seen him go by, and he didn’t. We had people within a mile of where he went in within just a few seconds.”
Price said authorities were still searching for Spriggs. But the commander was candid Spriggs isn’t a highly sought fugitive, because his charges of drug possession and probation violations aren’t all that serious — which made his dramatic escape even more odd.
“You know, if nothing else,” the commander said with a laugh, “if he’s willing to jump in the river, there’s not much you can do about it. The charges aren’t that big. He’s not a top 10 fugitive or anything like that; he’s just somebody we know has warrants on him.”