ELIZABETHTON — Officer Sarah Ellison of the Elizabethton Police Department did not have much trouble making an arrest in a case of leaving the scene of an accident shortly after midnight on Sunday. She said all she had to do was follow the fluid trail laid down by the vehicle from Highland Cemetery to Burgie Street. The trail was often more than a foot wide.
Ellison arrested Gary Carr, 25, 1613 Burglie St., on charges of a second offense of driving under the influence, a second offense of driving on a revoked license, and leaving the scene of an accident with property damage. He is scheduled to answer the charge in Sessions Court on Sept. 13.
Ellison said officers received their first report of a problem at 12:30 a.m. Sunday. It was about a vehicle leaving the roadway and causing property damage on Florence Street. Other reports of property damage at other locations started coming in, and identified the vehicle as a van with a flat tire and sparks coming from the rim, Ellison said.
Responding officers found the fluid trail and were able to follow it to Carr’s address. When they arrived, they were directed to Carr’s bedroom. Ellison said he was in bed and his clothing was in the floor. The van keys were on the dresser. She reported that Carr was obviously intoxicated.
As the officers continued to investigate, they followed the fluid trail in the opposite direction. She said it led to Highland Cemetery on Tipton Street. The physical evidence revealed the vehicle had traveled down a gravel road in the cemetery. Where it made a sharp right turn, there were tire tracks where the vehicle had left the road and struck two large gravestones, scattering the headstones several feet. Fortunately, none of the headstones appeared to be broken and the police gathered them and placed them back on the graves.
Ellison said it appeared the vehicle had become stuck on the headstones, which she said caused a punctured tire and was also the point where the vehicle began leaking fluids. Ellison followed the fluid trail south on Tipton Street, onto Beech Street and then onto Florence Street. At the intersection with Cedar Avenue, Ellison said the vehicle went on church property, through the grass and onto Well Street. The vehicle proceeded down Church Street and south on Cedar Avenue and then south on Southside Road.
She said the vehicle ran into several yards and generally in the opposing lane of travel. At the intersection with Parkway Boulevard, the fluid trail continued north, across W. G Street and onto Burgie Street, where it was parked at 1613.
Ellison contacted Joe Alexander, who is a member of the cemetery organization. Alexander said the individual plots are owned by the families.
On Tuesday afternoon, one of the family members of the damaged plot, Danny Calloway, came to see the damage. He said the headstones marked the graves of his late wife and his in-laws.
“It just makes you sick when you see it,” Calloway said of the damage.