Police are searching for the body of a toddler who disappeared after her father drove into a river to avoid police, according to authorities.
NBC News reports that a Kansas man was found intoxicated inside his vehicle with the child on his lap when police approached him. The man’s girlfriend reportedly contacted the Leon Police Department on Wednesday after someone spotted her boyfriend at a liquor store with the child.
“She tried to call him to bring the child home, and he said, ‘No. Don’t worry about me and the child, we’ll be fine,'” Butler County Sheriff Kelly Herzet said. “She got worried about that.”
According to the Wichita Eagle, the Butler County Sheriff’s Office identified the man as 44-year-old Christopher Johnson.
Authorities located Johnson at around 6:45 p.m., seated in the driver’s side of his pickup truck off of Walnut Street in Leon, around 30 miles from Wichita. The toddler was sitting on his lap, as police approached Johnson on foot.
As the officers approached the truck, they tried to convince the man to get out. At first, according to Herzet, it seemed to be working.
“They got to talking to him,” the sheriff said, adding that the encounter began peacefully, and the girl was fine at the time. “They told him, ‘We need to take the child, you don’t have a car seat.'”
Johnson then “panicked” and “drove off into the Walnut River.” Around 90 minutes later, searchers pulled the truck from the vehicle. Johnson’s lifeless body was pinned inside the vehicle.
His daughter is still missing.
“The child must have got sucked out of the vehicle, so now we’re going to have to start looking down the Walnut River for the child,” Herzet said.
Search efforts to recover the little girl resumed on Thursday morning.
The names of those involved have not yet been released. Check back for updates.
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[Feature Photo: Pixabay]