Local News

A Peoria man was arrested after authorities said he drove his truck into the Illinois River and then swam away to avoid officers.

Officers with Peoria Police Department responded to Galena Marina on Thursday afternoon after someone called 911, saying they watched a black truck drive off a boat ramp and into the river. Another witness told police that he had just parked his car before he saw a pickup truck circle once around the lot and then accelerate into the water.

According to reports, the vehicle rested about 100 feet from the bank with water up to its headlights.

When police arrived at the marina, they learned the driver who they identified as Johann D. Smart, 36, was sitting in the truck. Police said they called out to Smart, who opened a door, stepped into the water and swam through the marina into the Illinois River.

Authorities tracked him as he swam, and a river rescue team composed of Peoria firefighters arrived in a boat. A fireman jumped into the water to retrieve Smart.

Smart was later arrested and held in Peoria County Jail on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol, operating an insured motor vehicle, reckless driving and a violation related to carrying a license or permit.

Online jail records show he was released after posting bond.

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