Officers pulled Donelson over at about 12:30 a.m. on suspicion of drunk driving in the area of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and College Avenue, near the College of Marin, Ross police Chief Erik Masterson said.
Donelson was asked to get out of his car, at which point he fled down College Avenue toward the Corte Madera Creek, Masterson said.
With officers chasing, Donelson climbed a fence and jumped into the creek, the police chief said.
Masterson said officers followed Donelson, who was swimming away from them, along the creek, using flashlights to keep an eye on him.
When officers reached a point where they couldn't follow Donelson any further, they lost sight of him, he said.
Several agencies joined in the search, using a swift-water rescue boat to track the man down, but he was not found, Masterson said. The search was called off at about 4:45 a.m., he said.
ABC7 News contributed to this report.