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Man spent more than six hours in Poudre River evading authorities, Fort Collins police say

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Posted at 9:54 PM, May 26, 2023

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — A man was arrested after he spent more than six hours in the Poudre River evading authorities, according to the Fort Collins Police Services.

The incident began on Thursday as members of the Neighborhood Engagement Team (NET) were conducting patrols in an area that's seen multiple drug complaints from residents, the department said in a release.

Officers spotted Michael Cortez, 31, who was wanted on seven warrants — four of which were felony warrants, according to the department. Cortez got into a vehicle as a passenger and began to leave, the department said.

Around 2:30 p.m., officers attempted a traffic stop on the vehicle in the 900 block of North Shields Street. Cortez allegedly exited the vehicle and ran off with a backpack, with officers chasing behind him.

According to Fort Collins police, Cortez jumped into the Poudre River and began to float down the river. At the sections where the river was shallow, he would stand up and walk on foot with the current, according to the department.

At some point, Cortez became separated from the backpack. Officers, along with members from the Poudre Fire Authority, recovered it downstream from him.

According to the department, the backpack contained 35 grams of methamphetamine.

Cortez floated down to almost College Avenue, according to Fort Collins police, and stood in waist-deep water in the middle of the river. He allegedly refused to surrender.

Poudre Fire Authority members threw multiple ropes at him to help him exit the river, but Cortez allegedly threw the ropes away and resisted the efforts.

Fort Collins police used a drone to keep an eye on Cortez.

Multiple teams from the police department, including the SWAT Team, the Criminal Impact Unit and members of the K9 team, responded to help. Officers determined it was not safe to enter the river due to the river's temperature and flow rate, Fort Collins police said.

After spending more than six hours in the river, and with nightfall approaching, Cortez exited the river and was taken into custody with assistance from a K9, according to Fort Collins police.

Cortez was booked into the Larimer County Jail on the seven warrants, as well as the following new charges:

  • Distribution of a controlled substance
  • Resisting arrest
  • Obstructing a peace officer
  • Fail or refusal to leave a premise

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