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Man rescued, then taken to jail

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Fredericksburg police and firefighters rescued a man who ran his wheelchair off the Rappahannock Canal path early Tuesday, police said.

The man avoided going into the water when his 600-pound power wheelchair got hung up on a small tree, city police spokeswoman Natatia Bledsoe said. It took rescue workers about 45 minutes to find and save the man.

It wasn’t a totally happy ending. Police said the man, 47-year-old Leroy Humphrey, who listed no fixed address, was taken to jail after the rescue on a public intoxication charge.

Bledsoe said police got a 911 call at 1:53 a.m. from Humphrey, who said he had run his wheelchair off the bike and pedestrian path and down the embankment. He had come across the bridge between Dale Street and Cossey Pond near the city dog park, Bledsoe said, and lost control of the chair after making a sharp right.

After hearing the victim screaming, Officer Josh Lynch got far enough down the embankment to attach a dog leash to the wheelchair. The chair has an estimated value of $15,000. Lynch and another city officer then held the leash until the fire department arrived.

Firefighters then used specialized equipment to get the man and the chair back onto the path before turning both over to police. A tow truck was called to transport the chair because police had no way to move it, Bledsoe said.

Police said Humphrey was clearly intoxicated and was cursing at them throughout the rescue.

Police also learned he is wanted on a misdemeanor charge in Florida, but Bledsoe said authorities there have declined to come get Humphrey.

Keith Epps: 540/374-5404


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