Florida DUI suspect jumps into ocean to flee deputies, officials say

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A DUI suspect in the Florida Keys crashed his pick-up truck before jumping into the ocean as an attempt to flee from law enforcement, officials say.

Monroe County deputies said 31-year-old Nicholas James Tralka, from Marathon, left a bar before 4 a.m. Sunday. A deputy saw his pickup truck speeding as it exited the bar parking lot near 105th Street and U.S. Highway 1 in Marathon. Then, the truck struck a concrete median, but continued driving, deputies say.

The deputy tried to do a traffic stop, but Tralka continued to drive, swerving between lanes and traveling nearly 100 mph. Eventually, the truck ran over tie spikes and crashed into a light post, a palm tree and an entrance sign for Duck Key. 

Deputies said Tralka ran away from the crash scene, jumped over a seawall and into the water. He began swimming south to Toms Harbor Channel Bridge, and a good Samaritan told deputies Tralka was hiding underneath the bridge, hanging onto a piling.  

Officers with the Key Colony Beach Police Department tossed Tralka a rope from a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation boat after he said he was giving up. He was pulled aboard and detained. 

According to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Tralka told officials he was drinking and got scared. After a search of the truck, deputies said they found three empty bottles of Fireball whiskey and one full bottle. Tralka was transported to jail where his blood-alcohol level was recorded at 0.214. The legal limit in Florida is 0.08.

Tralka faces several charges including hit-and-run, DUI, and fleeing and eluding.