Jumper's body found in Bayou Grosse Tete

Deidre Cruse, Governmental Reporter

A body thought to be that of a driver who fled an I-10 traffic stop last week was found drowned in Bayou Grosse Tete last Wednesday morning (December 7), a spokesman for Sheriff Brent Allain said.

Capt. Ty Patin said a sheriff's patrol unit was in the process of stopping a vehicle around midnight Monday near Grosse Tete when the driver, who had pulled to the side of the road, jumped from the car and ran into the woods before the deputy could talk to him.

The deputy detained a passenger in the car who attempted to slide into the driver's and called for help, Patin said. He said deputies searched the woods in vain for the driver until 5 a.m.

In the meantime, a search of the car turned up $2,560 in counterfeit money, two handguns and approximately 12 grams of marijuana, the captain said.

The passenger, Elesha Gunn, 20, of Houston was booked into the Iberville Parish Jail on charges of improper signaling, illegal carrying of weapons, monetary instrument abuse and possession of marijuana, Patin said.

Around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, the captain said, a Grosse Tete area resident called jail dispatchers with a report of a strange man asking for help.

“They said they would call the Sheriff's Office, and he took off running,” Patin said.

Deputies were dispatched to the area to search.

Also Tuesday, an off-duty deputy who had stopped at a resident's house saw a man “who looked out of place,” Patin said. “The guy popped out from around the house, chasing through on foot. He ran across La. 77, behind a house and jumped into Bayou Grosse Tete and attempted to swim. The deputy saw him go under and not come back up.”

Maj. Johnny Blanchard and other sheriff's personnel drug Bayou Grosse Tete for several hours Tuesday afternoon, but suspended the search because of heavy debris in the water.

They found the body around 10:30 Wednesday morning, and sent it on to New Orleans for autopsy and to get a positive ID, Patin said. The man was not carrying any identification papers.

Based on information from the driver's mother, the body has been identified tentatively as that of a 23-year-old Memphis man, he said.