The patrol car of a Tennessee deputy who disappeared after making an arrest has been recovered from a river a day after he went lacking, authorities mentioned. Nevertheless, the seek for the deputy continues.

Meigs County Deputy Robert “R.J.” Leonard’s car was pulled from the Tennessee River on Thursday, in an space on the border of Meigs and Hamilton counties, officers mentioned.

The physique of a lady believed to be the arrestee has been recovered from the backseat of the car, although the deputy stays lacking, authorities mentioned.

PHOTO: A patrol vehicle is retrieved from the Tennessee River on the border of Meigs and Hamilton Counties in Tennessee, Feb. 15, 2024. (WTVC)

PHOTO: A patrol car is retrieved from the Tennessee River on the border of Meigs and Hamilton Counties in Tennessee, Feb. 15, 2024. (WTVC)

A seek for the deputy stays ongoing, in line with Hamilton County Sheriff Austin Garrett.

“We all the time hope that it is a rescue, so we all the time maintain out that hope. However we additionally must face the info which can be in entrance of us,” Garrett mentioned at a press briefing Thursday afternoon. “We cannot lose hope that we might nonetheless recuperate him.”

Authorities are working to substantiate the identification of the lady recovered from the backseat, although imagine it to be the arrestee, in line with Meigs County District Legal professional Russell Johnson.

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Leonard had responded to a report of a person and lady combating on a bridge shortly earlier than 10 p.m. native time Wednesday and had taken the lady into custody, in line with Johnson. He was driving to the county jail when the sheriff’s workplace misplaced communication with him and he failed to answer a standing examine, Johnson mentioned.

One of many deputy’s final communications was a textual content to his spouse that mentioned, “Arrest,” Johnson mentioned.

“His spouse texted again and mentioned, ‘That is good’ or ‘That is nice,'” Leonard mentioned at a press briefing earlier on Thursday. “We all know that his telephone didn’t evidently obtain that textual content.”

At almost the identical time, Leonard additionally made a radio communication to dispatch, shortly after 10 p.m., Johnson mentioned.

“Dispatch could not inform what he was saying,” he mentioned. “We predict he was saying, ‘Water.'”

PHOTO: A vehicle was found submerged in the Tennessee River amid the search for a missing deputy in Meigs County, Tennessee, Feb. 15, 2024. (WTVC)

PHOTO: A car was discovered submerged within the Tennessee River amid the seek for a lacking deputy in Meigs County, Tennessee, Feb. 15, 2024. (WTVC)

The search led authorities to a touchdown close to the bridge on the Tennessee River, Johnson mentioned.

“They triangulated the final place of his telephone and the Life360 that his spouse has connected to his telephone and it seems that they’re nearly in the identical location,” Johnson mentioned.

A car was situated Thursday morning within the river. It was the wrong way up with the wheels up, stuffed with mud, and the driver-side window was down, Johnson mentioned. The license plate confirmed it to be Leonard’s patrol automobile, in line with Johnson.

PHOTO: Meigs County District Attorney Russell Johnson addresses reporters on Feb. 15, 2024. (WTVC)

PHOTO: Meigs County District Legal professional Russell Johnson addresses reporters on Feb. 15, 2024. (WTVC)

Officers mentioned the touchdown could be treacherous, particularly for these not from the agricultural space. A girl went into the water on the similar location a number of weeks in the past and was rescued and survived, Johnson mentioned.

A number of businesses will examine how the car ended up within the water. Nevertheless, Johnson famous that the deputy, a local of New York, seemed to be texting and radioing whereas driving in a poorly lit space he was unfamiliar with.

“We’re working beneath the idea that it was an accident — he missed his flip, he wasn’t acquainted and he was doing different issues that will have precipitated him to enter the water,” Johnson mentioned on the Thursday afternoon press briefing.

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Leonard joined the power after graduating from the coaching academy in December, in line with Meigs County Sheriff Jackie Melton. He was on the evening shift and was doing a “actual good job,” Melton mentioned.

Leonard lived in close by Roane County along with his spouse and three youngsters, officers mentioned.

“It is a arduous time for us right here,” Meigs County Chief Deputy Brian Malone mentioned on the press briefing, choking up. “It is one thing that we do not ever take care of right here in Meigs County.”

“Deputy Leonard had solely been right here for a pair months, however he’d change into a part of our household,” he mentioned.

Patrol vehicle of Tennessee deputy who disappeared after making arrest recovered from river initially appeared on abcnews.go.com

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