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John Thompson

Elizabethton Bureau Chief
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Motorcycle rider injured in chase arrested after release from hospital

August 12th, 2011 1:59 pm by John Thompson

ELIZABETHTON — A motorcyclist recently was arrested after being released from the Johnson City Medical Center for injuries he got in a spectacular wreck that ended a high-speed pursuit in Carter and Washington counties.
Herman K. Swift, 49, 507 Harmon Road, Mountain City, is scheduled to appear in Carter County Sessions Court on Sept. 6 to answer charges of a fourth offense of driving under the influence, a second offense of driving on a revoked license, evading arrest, reckless driving, not obeying a traffic control device.
Swift was injured at the intersection of Broad Street and U.S. Highway 19E as he was being pursued by officers of the Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Carter County Sheriff’s Department.
Trooper Johnathan Street of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said Swift reached speeds of 70 mph in a 40-mph zone and had failed to stop at three red lights on Elk Avenue and Broad Street. Johnson said Swift attempted to make a right turn onto U.S. 19E from Broad Street but went across all six lanes of travel, exited the road on the left, went airborne and struck the far-side embankment of a drainage canal.
The pursuit began when Lt. Patrick Johnson of the Carter County Sheriff’s Department received a complaint from a witness who flagged him down shortly after midnight on July 30. The witness said a motorcyclist had dropped his orange Harley Davidson motorcycle on Lovers Lane and appeared to be drunk. The witness said the man got back on his motorcycle and headed toward Tenn. Highway 400.
Johnson made contact with the motorcyclist at the intersection of Lynn Avenue and Broad Street. Johnson activated his emergency lights and attempted to stop the motorcycle. He said the motorcyclist sped away, heading toward Johnson City on West Elk Avenue.
Johnson discontinued the pursuit, but said the motorcyclist was extremely unstable and was crossing both the center line and the fog line while running two red lights. Johnson lost sight of the motorcycle, but continued to follow because he worried the driver might have an accident.
The motorcycle was spotted on University Parkway by Johnson City police. They tried to stop the motorcycle but reported the driver refused to stop and turned around, heading east towards Carter County.
Lt. Johnson had continued to follow the motorcycle’s path and saw him approaching from the west, returning to his jurisdiction. Johnson was able to keep the motorcycle in sight and observed Trooper Street attempting to stop the motorcyclist at the intersection of Elk Avenue and Hudson Drive. Johnson said the motorcycle passed vehicles stopped for the red light and ran through the stop signal.
After the crash, Street said, he found a prescription pill bottle containing hydrocodone and a cold 12-ounce can of Busch beer in the saddlebags.

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