Carter Co. man who swims Watauga River to escape cops caught on other side

John Thompson • Jan 29, 2013 at 8:52 AM

ELIZABETHTON — In an effort to avoid law enforcement officers Thursday, a man swam the frigid Watauga River, only to be arrested by officers on the other bank, police said.

James Lynn Cox, 30, 340 Lovers Lane, Lot 8, was charged with assault and vandalism under the Domestic Violence Law, reckless endangerment and reckless endangerment of a child. He is scheduled to answer the charges in Sessions Court on Feb. 19.

Deputy Isaac Rhea of the Carter County Sheriff’s Department responded to the domestic violence call at 9:49 p.m. He spoke with Jeanie Stines, who said she picked up her boyfriend at his employer’s residence and found him intoxicated.

On the way home, she said they began to argue about his drinking and he attempted to jump from the moving car. She said he grabbed the steering wheel of her 1995 Ford Escort and attempted to wreck it. She said he then broke the windshield with his feet.

She said once they arrived home, Cox dragged her through her home by her hair. A 12-year-old boy tried to stop Cox from hurting Stines. She said Cox twisted the boy’s arm and threw him to the side.

Stines said she called 911 when Cox left the residence. She said he returned a short time after she called 911 and began pounding on the back door. She would not let him in.

Rhea reported that Cox attempted to avoid the responding law enforcement by swimming across the Watauga River, swollen from unusually heavy rains. The temperature on that day ranged from 39 for a high and 22 for a low.

Once he reached the other bank, the Elizabethton Police Department took him into custody. He was then transported to the Sycamore Shoals Hospital emergency room for treatment of hypothermia. He was then taken to jail.

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