High speed chase ends with two wrecks – one each in Spalding and Lamar counties

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

A high speed chase involving two suspect vehicles initiated by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office ended with two separate wrecks – one in Lamar County and the second in Spalding County.

According to Monroe County Sheriff Brad Freeman, the incident began in Monroe County when a deputy patrolling the interstate observed the two vehicles commit numerous traffic violations.

“The way this started, our deputy was riding north on I-75. The two cars passed him in the emergency lane. They just passed the marked unit at a high rate of speed,” Freeman explained, adding that his deputy was unable to safely follow in the emergency lane. “They (the drivers) saw him and slowed down a little bit. They just kept driving in the emergency lane. He was in Lamar County when he tried to pull them over, so the pursuit actually began in Lamar County.”

At that time, deputies of the Lamar County Sheriff’s Office joined in the pursuit.

Lamar County Sheriff Brad White said his deputies’ primary involvement ended when one suspect vehicle wrecked as it was travelling at a high rate of speed towards Griffin.

“Our deputies assisted, and we pitted one vehicle just north of New Hope Road, so the vast majority of our deputies stopped with that accident. To the best of my knowledge, Monroe County was still pursuing them,” White said.

White said the vehicle that was stopped via the PIT maneuver was occupied by two suspects, neither of whom were injured in the wreck.

After leaving the roadway, the suspect vehicle sped through the front yard of a nearby residence, nearly running into the structure.

No Lamar County deputies were injured in the incident.

The pursuit concluded with the wreck of the second suspect vehicle in the area of Zebulon Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway.

Spalding County Sheriff Darrell Dix reported none of his deputies were involved in the pursuit.

“Our deputies were not involved in it (the chase). We didn’t know about it until the wreck occurred,” Dix said. “When the Nixle alert came out, it said accident with injuries and possible entrapment at MLK and Zebulon Road.”

Sheriff Freeman said both suspect vehicles had previously been reported stolen.

“I guess they were going to Wisconsin because that is where they are from. At least some of these people are from Wisconsin,” Freeman said. “They took a stolen car down from Wisconsin to Miami Beach where they stole another car and were taking it home.”

Freeman said he was aware of only one suspect who may have sustained injuries.

“It’s my understanding there was one guy in a dually pickup truck that was injured when it wrecked and one of our cars experienced some mechanical damage when it ran up an embankment but no deputies were injured,” he said.

Freeman said that because the pursuit began in Lamar County, that is where the felony charges will be taken against the suspects.

“We’re taking all felony charges in Lamar County. We’re going to write them traffic citations in Monroe County,” he said, citing such charges as theft by bringing stolen property into the state and fleeing and attempting to elude. “I think one of them had some narcotics and several thousand dollars on him and one of them had an outstanding warrant, also.”

Freeman said his agency has a comprehensive pursuit policy and that most of such incidents result from high risk situations.

“Most of our pursuits are started by pretty egregious traffic violations. That’s what happened today,” Freeman said. “I believe they were running somewhere close to 95 to 100 miles per hour. That’s when they were driving in the emergency lane. That’s what drew our attention to them. They were already reckless and endangering people’s lives when we noticed them.”

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