HOPKINS COUNTY, Ky. (1/10/2013) – Last night, a Ky. State Police pursuit spanning three counties and reaching speeds of 120 mph ended in Hopkins County.
The chase began when KSP trooper, Jared Beauchamp, attempted to stop a speeding vehicle operated by Christopher T Walker, 21, of Clarksville, Tenn. The vehicle was clocked at 78 mph in a 55 mph zone on U.S. Route 60 in Henderson Co.
KSP Post 16 Public Affairs Officer TFC Corey King said that Walker turned on to the Henderson Bypass (Ky. Route 425), making multiple U-turns, before heading south on Interstate 69 (Pennyrile Parkway). “Some of the speeds got as high as 120 mph,” said King. “It got really dangerous when they started taking the emergency lanes to get around vehicles. They went around a semi once, taking the emergency strip.”
Troopers from the Post 16 region chased the vehicle for 35 miles from Henderson Co., through Webster Co., and into Hopkins Co. where Post 2 troopers deployed stop-sticks near the 52 mile-marker on I-69 to disable the vehicle. The front driver-side tire was ruptured; however, the vehicle continued for approximately three miles before exiting the highway, coming to rest in the ditch adjacent to the southbound lane just north of exit 49 in Hanson, Ky.
The three occupants fled west on foot toward the VF Factory Outlet in Hanson. K-9 units lost track of the subjects, but one suspect, Clifford Searcy, 23, of Clarksville, was spotted by Hanson residents. One of the residents, Jack Hinton, spoke with SurfKY News today and said the neighborhood was already on high alert following the dangerous pursuit.
“I had just been to the store,” Hinton said. “The police were all up there, and they told me about the chase.” Hinton went on to say that police confirmed that the suspects were seen heading toward the area of his neighborhood, just northeast of downtown Hanson. Hinton said that, after returning home, he and friends, Cody Townsend, Brandon Marsh, and Travis Marsh walked the streets, checking homes and yards for anything suspicious.
Hinton said that they spotted Searcy near the corner of Mill St. and Ray Ln. “He saw us and started walking the other way. So, we followed him and he walked right between my house and Cody’s house … we approached him and said, ‘Who are you, and what are you doing.’ He just kept saying, ‘I’m scared. I’m scared.’ He wouldn’t tell us where he was from. We made him lay down on his belly and told him not to move. We called the police, and they came down there … and they took off with him.”
Hinton said that some of the residents were armed, and they held Searcy at gunpoint until law enforcement arrived. “He was real jumpy and was acting like he was going to run until he saw that some of us were armed.”
King recognized the actions of those involved in holding the suspect, saying, “It’s always good if someone protects their property and their family and also helps law enforcement.” He also credited Hopkins County Sheriffs with assisting in the search for the subjects.
King said that later, at approximately 2:30 a.m., the two remaining subjects were located and arrested at Days Inn in Madisonville. He said that KSP obtained warrants for both 19-year-old Vincent Lyle and 21-year-old Christopher T Walker, both of Clarksville, acting on tips obtained from associates of the suspects. “We knew who both of them were,” King said.
All three are being lodged in the Henderson County Detention Center.
Walker faces numerous charges including Speeding (26 mph or greater), Reckless Driving, Fleeing and Evading (1st and 2nd degree), Wanton Endangerment (1st degree), Criminal Trespassing (3rd degree), Improper Signaling, Improper Passing, Improper Turning, Improper Display of Registration, Failure to Produce Insurance, Improper Lane Usage, Following a Vehicle Too closely.
Searcy was charged with Fleeing and Evading (2nd degree) and Criminal Trespassing (3rd degree).
Lyle was charged with Fleeing and Evading (2nd degree).
As yet, officials do not know why Walker and company fled police. “That’s the million-dollar question right now,” said King. He said that the dangerous attempt to flee suggests that “there appears to be more to it. We’re in the process of determining that.” Police did not find weapons, drugs, or any other conspicuous reason for the drastic measures to escape. He did not rule-out the possibility that the suspects disposed of evidence during the pursuit or foot-chase. “I hate to think they would have been doing all that just over a speeding citation.”
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