Deputy Michael Freeman of the Carter County Sheriff’s Department reported he was on routine patrol at 2:40 a.m. Saturday when dispatch told him to watch for a black Pontiac Sunbird that had just left the Roadrunner in Hampton. Freeman said the driver was reported to be impaired.
Sgt. Kenny Cornett said he noticed a black Sunbird going north on U.S. Highway 19E and approaching the intersection with Siam Road. Freeman said Cornett reported the car was “weaving all over the road.”
Cornett initiated his emergency equipment and tried to stop the car. Freeman said the driver of the Sunbird pulled away at a high rate of speed, still going north on U.S. Highway 19E.
Cornett said the car turned recklessly onto the Stoney Creek Highway and continued going north. After going a few miles on the Stoney Creek Highway, the car turned right onto Broad Street Extension. Freeman had anticipated the move and was waiting there with all his emergency equipment activated and spike strips deployed. He said the Sunbird evaded the roadblock and continued westbound on Broad Street Extension. Freeman then got back into his cruiser and began chasing the driver. Several cars from the Elizabethton Police Department also joined the pursuit.
Once the driver reached U.S. 19E again, he again turned northbound. Freeman said he turned left onto Lacy Hollow Road. He said Officer Jordan Ensor of the Elizabethton Police Department was the first to arrive at 115 Lacy Hollow Road, where the Sunbird had stopped. After Ensor got out of his vehicle, Freeman said the driver placed his car in reverse and rammed into Ensor’s patrol car.
Freeman said the Sunbird continued down Lacy Hollow until the driver turned right onto the Bristol Highway. There were by this time several cars from the Carter County Sheriff’s Department, Elizabethton Police Department and Tennessee Highway Patrol in pursuit. The Sunbird turned left onto Admiral Avenue and went around Muse Avenue, heading back to the Bristol Highway.
Freeman said while attempting to evade other officers, the driver of the Sunfire struck the patrol car of Carter County Deputy Michelle Meade in the right passenger’s area. The driver then got back on the Bristol Highway, heading back toward Elizabethton.
Freeman said after striking Meade’s car, the driver almost hit his cruiser head on. Freeman was able to swerve to avoid the collision. The Sunbird then hit a Ford Explorer in the right front side at an angle before going out of control and rolling into a ditch on the Bristol Highway.
Freeman and Elizabethton Police officers Matt Sexton and Sgt. Patrick White were able to take the driver into custody. He was identified as Benjamin Michael Cole, 29, 115 Lacy Hollow Road. He was charged with three counts of aggravated assault, four counts of reckless endangerment, felony evading arrest and an implied consent violation. He is scheduled to appear in Sessions Court on Aug. 13.