VIDEO UPDATE: Man dives into freezing river following A27 pile-up

A man dived in a river in freezing temperatures in what is believed to have been a desperate attempt to escape police following an eight-vehicle collision this evening (Wednesday).

Police say three men ran from a Mercedes, which had been reported stolen from south-west London, after it crashed near the Southerham roundabout at 4.12pm while being pursued by officers after being spotted travelling at speed on the A23 a little earlier.

Photo by Eddie Mitchell

Photo by Eddie Mitchell

Sussex Police said one man managed to swim across the river Ouse in attempt to evade capture, but was picked up by officers as he emerged on the opposite bank.

He was reportedly taken to hospital under arrest, along with another of the car’s occupants who suffered an arm injury in the collision.

The driver of another vehicle involved in the collision was said to have suffered a suspected broken collarbone and was also taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.

A spokesperson for Sussex Police said the pursuit started on the A23 just north of Pyecombe before the car turned on to the A27. It rammed a police car at the A23/A27 interchange before continuing on towards the eastern end of Lewes by-pass where it crashed, damaging a number of other vehicles.

Motorists are being advised to avoid the area. Westbound traffic is moving slowly, but the road is closed eastbound at the Kingston roundabout resulting in serious congestion in the area and in Lewes itself.

The road closure is likely to continue into the evening and drivers are recommended to seek alternative routes as soon as they are able.

Sergeant Stacey Ellott from the Surrey and Sussex roads policing unit said, “We are aware that this is causing considerable disruption and we are working as swiftly as possible to reopen the road, but this will take some time and we thank people for their patience.

“I am hoping that we will have the road open again by around 9pm.”

Anyone who witnessed the collision or any of the incidents leading up to it is asked to report online or call 101 quoting Operation Raydon.