A 29-year-old man is dead after authorities say he allegedly jumped into a river early Sunday morning in Spring Lake, North Carolina. ABC 11 Eyewitness News reported that around 9 a.m. on March 18, the Spring Lake Police Department received several calls about a naked man, later identified as Bernard Bryant, running around near the area of West Manchester Road near North Bragg Boulevard.
When officers arrived at the scene, they made an attempt to apprehend Bryant, but he started running. To avoid arrest, Bryant purportedly jumped into the Little River behind the Church of the Covenant.
It is unknown if Bryant was a member of the church.
Spring Lake Fire Department Capt. Steven Barker stated that the fire department with Fort Bragg Fire, along with emergency medical services, surrounded the Littler River in an effort to locate Bryant.
When he was located, he was pulled out of the Little River — he was conscious at the time, according to Baker. Before taking him to the county jail, he was first transported by ambulance to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center where he was pronounced dead a short time after his arrival.
At this time, it is unknown why Bryant was naked and running around on West Manchester Road before jumping into the Little River to supposedly avoid being arrested. However, Spring Lake Police believe that Bryant had a mental illness, and hypothermia may have played a role in his death.
A man, who is believed to be one of Bryant’s childhood friends, was stunned after learning about his death on the news. He expressed his grief via social media, saying rest in peace and “sleep well.”
One social media user stated that he last saw Bryant, who was described as a “sweet” person by another user, several days before his death at a local store. He went on to say that he spoke with him for about fifteen minutes and it seemed as if he was doing better.
His remains will be transferred to a local medical examiner’s office to determine the cause of death, according to WRAL News.
An investigation into Bryant’s death is ongoing.