County deputy struck by car recovering, set to begin rehab

Becky Campbell • Jan 10, 2012 at 11:33 PM

A Washington County sheriff’s deputy hit by a car during a robbery investigation is scheduled to begin rehabilitation this week.

Gary Daugherty, 47, was listed in stable condition at Johnson City Medical Center, according to a Mountain States Health Alliance spokesman.

Washington County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Leighta Laitinen confirmed Daugherty’s rehab will start this week. Daugherty’s road to recovery will likely take six months or more, she said.

Laitinen visited Daugherty this week and said he’s in good spirits and his condition is improving.

Daugherty went through three surgeries last week to repair damage to his arm, wrist and knee when the car slammed into him at 70 to 80 mph on Jan. 2.

His cracked pelvis will be allowed to heal on its own, so Daugherty cannot bear weight for several months.

The incident happened as Daugherty was trying to adjust a spike strip, or stop stick, he’d deployed on Tenn. Highway 81 South in an attempt to stop a fleeing robbery suspect.

Laitinen said Daugherty’s memory of what happened is limited to just before and just after he got hit.

“He remembers throwing the stop stick and it hanging up and he remembers going back in the road to fix it, thinking he had time and he remembers seeing (the suspect’s) car lights and (the officer’s) headlights,” Laitinen said.

WCSO Sgt. Lee Cross, who had approved Daugherty deploying the stop stick, was right behind the fleeing vehicle.

“The next thing he remembers is a woman wiping blood out of his eyes,” Laitinen said.

That woman, and other motorists, witnessed Daugherty get hit and stopped to help.

“He said he thought they were angels,” Laitinen said.

She and others in the department maintain the suspects could have avoided Daugherty.

In the hours and days after Daugherty was hit, Laitinen and others of the sheriff’s office command staff watched the video of the incident.

“I worked in the ER before here and I’ve been here a long time and I knew what was coming. I knew he got hit, but it absolutely took my breath,” she said.

Daugherty has not seen the video, she said.

Daugherty is a seven-year veteran of the department and prior to his law enforcement career he served 21 years in the Marines.

The three people charged in the robbery that led up to Daugherty’s getting hit, and with the incident involving him, will be in a Washington County Sessions courtroom Thursday for their initial appearance.

Dalvin Jashauntelynn Stephens, 18, 1726 Dave Buck Road, was driving the Chevy Cavalier that hit Daugherty. He is charged with attempted first-degree murder, robbery, felony evading arrest, failure to yield, driving on a suspended license, leaving the scene of an accident with injuries and three counts of reckless endangerment.

Two passengers in the car also face charges.

Reginald Dewayne Smith, 41, 1419 Colony Park Drive, and Ashley Nicole McGraw, 18, 127 Forest Hills Drive, are charged with robbery, evading arrest and leaving the scene of an accident with injuries.

The three have varying bonds based on their charges. Stephens is being held on a $201,000 bond, Smith has a $170,000 bond and McGraw has a $75,000 bond.

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