Chase leads to arrest

Published 9:15 am Monday, December 11, 2017

On the morning of Nov 25, Bell County Deputy Chris Barnes attempted to initiate a traffic stop on a 1999 blue Ford Explorer for expired tags at the junction of Hwy. 66 and Sim’s Fork.

According the police, when Barnes activated his emergency equipment, the driver of the Explorer slammed on the brakes, almost causing Barnes and Deputy James Taulbee, who was following, to lose control of their vehicles. After contacting dispatch, Barnes and Taulbee pursued the vehicle to the head of Sim’s Fork.

The press release states the Explorer then accelerated at a high rate of speed onto a logging road at the head of the hollow. Both deputies continued the pursuit to Mary’s Branch until the driver temporarily turned off the lights. The lights came back on heading past the Mary’s Branch turn off. Barnes stated that he proceeded toward the vehicle, but due to rough road conditions and the high rate of speed, the chase was terminated.

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The release continues to state that on Nov. 26 Barnes returned to the Sim’s Fork area for a residential canvas. Several residents identified Tommy Smith, 45, of Hinkle, as the driver of the Explorer and said that he was seen walking out of the area around 4 a.m. that day. One resident stated that he spoke to Smith, who allegedly claimed he wrecked his vehicle at the top of the mountain around the time Barnes terminated the pursuit. The same resident also stated Smith told them an Angel Collett was a passenger in the Explorer during the pursuit and that it was still at the same location where it had wrecked.

The press release further states that Barnes located the Explorer approximately 500 yards from his last contact the night before during the chase. Barnes contacted Wagoner’s Towing who retrieved the SUV. Inside, the deputy discovered what appeared to be a small baggie containing a white, crystal, powder-like substance. After further investigation, Barnes also found two oxygenated hoses, fuel and a Coleman fuel tank with a torch on it, along with paraphernalia to produce what is commonly known as shake and bake (methamphetamine), but it was not completed yet. Later that day Barnes located Collett and she confirmed that she was inside the vehicle at the time of the pursuit and also stated that Tommy Ray Smith was indeed the driver of the Explorer. Collett also stated she tried to get Smith to stop, but he would not due to an active parole violation. She said the last she saw of Smith was after the vehicle wrecked and him running down the mountainside.

Barnes secured a warrant for Smith and he was apprehended the night of Dec. 6 and lodged in the Bell County Detention Center on charges of first-degree possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, first-degree fleeing or evading police, first-degree wanton endangerment, two counts of wanton endangerment of a police officer, manufacturing methamphetamine, reckless driving, improper registration plate, and he was served a warrant.

Brian O’Brien of The Big One 106.3 FM WRIL contributed to this article.