A 29-year-old man drowned yesterday after he drove a stolen car into the Anacostia River in a high-speed getaway attempt.
Police said the body of Albert Eugene Leslie, of no fixed address, was pulled out of the river near the North Anacostia Naval Station gate, just south of the South Capitol Street Bridge yesterday morning.
Police said Air Force Sgt. Jerome Wiggins had picked up Leslie near 17th Street NW about an hour earlier. Wiggins told Leslie he would take him to Suitland, but that he had to stop by his dormitory at Bolling Air Force Base first to change clothes.
When they got to Bolling, Wiggins invited Leslie to come up to his room to wait, according to police. Leslie then pointed a "sharp object" at Wiggins' neck and demanded money. When Wiggins told him he only had about $7, Leslie tied the airman's hands and feet with a telephone cord, gagged and blindfolded him and took his watch and the keys to his car.
After Leslie fled in the blue Camaro, Wiggins freed himself and called base security, which ordered Bolling and the naval station sealed.
Mary Law, a Transco security guard stationed at the north gate, said that when the call came, she tried to close the metal fence there, but couldn't because "it's been too bent up to move for a long time."
Instead, Law pulled her security patrol car in front of the gate and a co-worker pulled another car into the horseshoe-shaped road that leads to the gate.
Suddenly, Law said, Leslie "came around the curve squealing and smoking his tires." She went around to the front of her car and drew her gun.
Law said Leslie wheeled his car around her partner's car, hopped the curb, went up on two wheels and came down, heading straight for the earthen flood wall that borders the river there.
The Camaro flew up over the bank, bounced down on the slope once, then plummeted into the water about eight feet from shore.
"He got out of the car and began swimming toward the western shore," Law said. "I ran to the bank and yelled, 'Hey, buddy, come back. You can't make it. We'll help you.' But he kept going."
"He was swimming good at first," she said, "but after 15 feet he faltered. He gestured for help, but didn't say anything. Then he just went down and didn't come back up."
Gordon R. Sharp, a 23-year-old Marine lance corporal who happened by, swam out in an attempt to rescue Leslie, but couldn't find him in the murky waters.
Police scuba divers recovered Leslie's body about 40 minutes later.