An Andersonville man died after jumping into a pond in Claxton while fleeing from Anderson County Sheriff’s Department deputies on Thursday night, authorities said.
The man has been identified as Ron Walter Austin, 41.
The chase started at about 11:45 p.m. Thursday when Anderson County Sheriff’s Department narcotics investigators observed what was believed to be a drug transaction between people in two vehicles in a business parking lot near North Charles G. Seivers Boulevard in Clinton, Chief Deputy Mark Lucas said Friday night.
Deputies attempted to stop both vehicles as they left the parking lot, Lucas said. One vehicle did stop, but the other fled from North Charles G. Seivers Boulevard onto Interstate 75, where deputies saw the driver throw out an article out of the car window, Lucas said.
The pursuit continued southbound on I-75 until the car exited at Raccoon Valley Road and turned back into Anderson County. The chase continued on several county roads until the driver stopped at the dead end of Nature Lane at Blockhouse Valley Road in Claxton, Lucas said.
The driver fled on foot, through the woods, and jumped into a small pond near the road. After diving into the pond, the driver was seen to be in distress, Lucas said.
A deputy followed the driver into the pond, swam over, and pulled him from the water, Lucas said.
“As the driver was unresponsive, deputies started and continued CPR until EMS and fire crews arrived,” Lucas said. “Paramedics were unable to revive the driver, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.”
The driver was identified as Austin after an investigation. Austin has a lengthy arrest history, and he was on state parole for methamphetamine charges, as well as federal supervised release after serving time in federal prison, also for methamphetamine charges, Lucas said.
He said an autopsy will be performed at the Regional Forensic Center in Knoxville.
“At this time it is not known if the death is from drowning, drug-related, or from some other medical problem,” Lucas said.
He said suspected prescription narcotics were found in the first vehicle.
More information will be added as it becomes available.