A New Hampshire man died after jumping into the Merrimack River early Tuesday morning in an attempt to flee from police in Methuen, authorities said.
The body of Stephen Gotto, 35, of Salem was pulled from the frigid waters about 200 yards from where he dived in, Steve O’Connell, a spokesman for the Essex district attorney’s office, said today.
Firefighters who had come to assist police "tried to get him to come to shore voluntarily. He did not," O'Connell said.
The incident occurred at about 1 a.m. Tuesday, O'Connell said.
Police attempted to pull over a car that had been reported stolen Sunday out of Methuen. Gotto was a passenger in the vehicle.
A chase ensued, with the driver crossing the state line into New Hampshire before circling back into the Methuen area. The pursuit ended when the car ran out of gas and came to a stop on Interstate 93, O'Connell said.
At that point, Gotto got out of the car and jumped off the I-93 bridge into the river.
The driver, Joel Messina, 41, of Holbrook, was charged with receiving stolen property, the car, and other charges related to the case. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Lawrence District Court and was ordered held on $10,000 bail.
O’Connell said the incident remains under investigation. An autopsy on Gotto’s body is to be performed today.
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