STEUBENVILLE - A 36-year-old city man is in critical condition at a Pittsburgh hospital after he left Trinity Medical Center West, allegedly stole a car and then jumped from the Market Street Bridge while trying to escape police officers who were pursuing him.
Reports show Shawn Birkhimer of 142 N. Sixth St. was initially arrested Saturday morning after two city police officers saw him at the Kiwk King store on North Seventh Street.
According to Police Chief William McCafferty, Birkhimer appeared to be unconscious.
"The police officers approached Birkhimer and found a hypodermic needle, a crack pipe and several pills stamped Clonazepan in his pockets. He was arrested on charges of possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of drug abuse instruments and taken to the Jefferson County Jail," McCafferty explained.
"While he was in the jail, Birkhimer began to complain and show signs that he was having seizures so he was transported to Trinity Medical Center West. The hospital has a policy that prisoners cannot have leg shackles on while they are in a hospital bed so the shackles were removed and returned to the county jail," continued McCafferty.
"Birkhimer then left his hospital bed Sunday morning and allegedly broke into a vehicle parked at the front of the hospital. The owner of the car found a hospital gown left in the car. We later received Sunday a report of a car stolen while the owner was inside the hospital picking up his wife," said McCafferty.
McCafferty said the owner of the vehicle had left his keys in the car with the doors unlocked while he was in the hospital.
"An officer spotted the stolen car on Market Street Sunday afternoon and began to pursue the vehicle onto the Market Street bridge when Birkimer stopped the car in the center of the bridge and jumped off the north side of the bridge into the Ohio River. The officer saw people in a boat and called to them to assist the individual. They were able to pull Birkhimer into their boat and brought him to the shore where a crew from ASI took Mr. Birkhimer back to Trinity Medical Center West," stated McCafferty.
McCafferty said Birkhimer was scheduled to make an appearance in Municipal Court on the possession charges.
Trinity Spokesman Keith Murdock said Birkhimer was taken by STATMedEvac to University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where he is listed as being in critical condition.