updated 12/3/2006 5:56:30 AM ET 2006-12-03T10:56:30

A 16-year-old boy in handcuffs escaped Saturday from a police cruiser parked on a bridge, then jumped over a concrete barrier, plunged into a river and drowned, authorities said.

It was unclear why the boy jumped off Interstate 95 and into the Occoquan River about 60 feet below, Virginia State Police Sgt. Terry Licklider said.

“We don’t know if he was just trying to escape and didn’t realize what he was trying to jump over,” he said.

Rodger Rodriguez, of Woodbridge, was pulled over about 3:20 a.m. for speeding, Licklider said. A police officer determined the boy had been drinking and arrested him for drunken driving and driving without a license.

The officer, following normal procedure, placed Rodriguez in the front passenger seat of the cruiser, Licklider said. The boy’s hands were handcuffed behind his back, the seat belt was buckled and the doors were locked.

The officer then went to check on Rodriguez’s car and realized he was missing when he looked up a few minutes later, Licklider said. The officer called rescuers after seeing the boy in the water.

His body was found about five hours later at the bottom of the river by a Prince William County police scuba team, Licklider said.

The boy’s mother, Gloria Elena Rodriguez, told The Washington Post her son was familiar with the area along the highway.

“He knew the river was there,” she said. “We don’t understand how he escaped from the car handcuffed. How could he have gotten out?”

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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