Driver dies after rocketing 400ft across the San Joaquin River in his Mercedes during police chase

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A driver has died after rocketing 400ft over the San Joaquin River at 110mph after a police chase in California.

Police said 58-year-old David Callahan, of Fresno, was driving recklessly when they began their pursuit at around 8.30am on Monday.

The silver Mercedes coupe led police on a chase towards the cliff which hangs above the river separating Fresno and Madera Counties.

Witness Bryan Zollars told KSEE: ‘Like at a hundred miles per hour, he cleared the whole damn river.’ 

Police officers who were around a mile back said they were astonished to see a cloud of dust erupt on the banks of the opposite side of the river when the car landed.

California Highway Patrol Officer Matt Zulim told the broadcaster: ‘This is just me eyeballing it, but from what it looks like, it looks like at some point the vehicle landed completely on its top.’

The chase had started slowly to begin with, police said, after Callahan had refused to pull over following a near collision with an officer.

‘What may have been going through his mind to drive this fast?’ Zulim added. ‘And to do what he did in his car today.. He jumped the San Joaquin River. It’s an absolute tragedy. You never want to see someone die especially in this fashion.’ 

The car was searched but there were not any immediate clues as to why he had driven over the river. 

Officers are working to discover whether Callahan was aware that he was going to fly over the river or if it was a fatal error.

Zulim told ABC: ‘We’re going to do an extensive follow-up, hopefully talk to family members and find out, if you can, what someone’s mindset would be to try to attempt to jump the river.’

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