High-Speed Pursuit in Excess of 100 MPH Ends in Crash a Mile Inside Wilkes County Line

Published Monday, May 9, 2016 at 3:53 pm

By Jesse Wood

Deputies with the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office engaged in a high-speed pursuit, at times in excess of 100 mph, in the wee hours of Saturday night that ended with the arrest of Thomas Church, 25, of Deep Gap, according to a deputy’s shift report.

At about 3:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, a deputy attempted to pull over a Honda Civic that was traveling in the wrong lane on Old U.S. 421 near Wildcat Road. The suspect then fled.

Church

Church

“In the straight [away] near Critcher Brothers, the vehicle turned its headlights off while traveling at a high rate of speed. The pursuit proceeded onto the main US 421 South towards Wilkes County. Once the vehicle was on US 421 South the speed of the pursuit increased to 100-plus mph. Luckily there was no traffic on the roadway,” the deputy wrote.

The deputy noted that the vehicle turned onto Mt. Zion Road just prior to the Wilkes County line and that the deputy lost sight of the vehicle near Flowers Branch Road. A perimeter was set up and Wilkes County authorities were contacted.

Deputies, who believed they knew who was driving the vehicle, saw the suspect’s father driving in the vicinity of the perimeter.

“The father apparently picked up the driver and his passenger and they fled into Wilkes County down Mt. Zion Road. Wilkes County deputies located the father driving up Highway 16 in Miller’s Creek and stopped the vehicle. The suspect, Thomas Church and his girlfriend … were located in the vehicle with the father. A deputy drove down to speak with Church and ended up placing him under arrest for felony fleeing to elude. The suspect vehicle was located crashed on Mt. Zion Road approximately one mile inside Wilkes County. The vehicle had rolled down an embankment,” according to the deputy’s shift report.

Church received a $15,000 secured bond and released to detention. More charges are pending.

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