Man arrested in Durant after swimming through pond, hiding from law enforcement in trees

Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 10:37 PM CDT
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DURANT, Okla. (KXII) - A man was arrested in Durant Thursday after running from his vehicle after a tribal police investigator pulled him over. Leading police on chase through land and water.

Choctaw Nation Tribal Police said the car he was driving matched the description of a vehicle involved in an active criminal attempted forgery case that officer was working.

He pulled Robert Raffee, 45, over around 10:30 a.m. That’s when Raffee ran out of the car and into a nearby pond behind the Choctaw RV Park, swimming to the marsh area in the back to get away from police.

Police said Raffee refused to come out of the pond so the Durant Fire Department had to deploy a boat to assist in getting Raffee into custody.

Raffee swam around the pond, getting away from the boat with every stroke. Even refusing the outstretched paddle of the officers offering to bring him aboard.

“He was eluding and getting away from anyone who was getting close to him,” said Darin Ferguson who watched the chase unfold. “He was taking grass and lily pads and putting them over his head.”

Ferguson said Raffee was out in the middle of the pond trying to swim away from officers, hiding in the shrubbery on the bank for hours.

“He disappeared under the bushes and crawled up out of the water and into the trees,” Ferguson said. “Then fire and rescue changed their strategy and that’s when we heard the chainsaw starting up.”

Raffee had swam to the back bank of the pond and was able to get out and climb up a tree where he sat among the limbs for 3 1/2 hours as crew negotiated with him to come down and surrender.

“His agenda was I’m going to make this last as long as I can,” Ferguson said. “He didn’t show any aggression, he didn’t show any violent tendencies. He simply looked more like a confused individual that was trying to evade.”

Raffee is currently in the Bryan County Jail. According to court records he’s not yet been charged with anything.

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