High speed chase ends in big crash

A car that failed to obey Georgia’s Move Over Law in Whigham Saturday, sparked a high speed chase into Decatur County that ended in a dramatic crash and the driver in custody.
Whigham Police Capt. Bruce Lowe was conducting a traffic stop at 7:50 p.m., on U.S. 84 West in Whigham when he says a 1999 Ford Taurus traveling through the town continued in an outside lane instead of changing to an inside lane and giving a wider berth to Lowe and the car he had stopped. Moving over is required by Georgia law.
“If a law enforcement officer is on the shoulder of the road with lights on conducting business, the law is that traffic needs to move over. If they are unable to move over they have to slow down below the posted speed limit so they are able to stop if need be,” explains Sgt. Marc Godby, Georgia State Patrol post commander in Colquitt.
Grady County Sheriff’s Deputy Wiley Griffin was arriving at the scene to back up Lowe on the traffic stop, when he witnessed the Taurus allegedly disobeying the “Move Over” law. Griffin and Lowe pursued the Taurus, which finally stopped near Piney Grove Road.
Griffin states an odor of alcoholic beverage coming from inside the car was evident, and the driver, 46-year-old James N. Wright of Bainbridge, admitted to drinking alcohol. When informed of the reason for the traffic stop and asked to exit the car, Wright put the car in gear and fled the scene, Griffin says.
Lowe and Griffin again pursued the Taurus, which allegedly refused to stop and began driving recklessly along U.S. 84 West toward Bainbridge. The officers report the car’s speed exceeded 100 mph, and the car was switching lanes repeatedly, at one point narrowly missing a semi tractor trailer.
The Georgia State Patrol joined the pursuit and Decatur County Sheriff’s Deputies deployed spike strips in an attempt to stop the Taurus from making it into the more heavily congested city of Bainbridge. Griffin states the Taurus approached the spikes at a high rate of speed and attempted to avoid them by driving onto the road shoulder. However, the front and rear drivers’ side tires did run over the spikes, and Wright lost control of the car. The Taurus crossed the highway median, then the two Eastbound lanes before hitting a fence and rolling several times in a field.
Deputy Griffin found a conscious Wright lying on the vehicle’s floor.
After he was taken to Memorial Hospital in Bainbridge for treatment, Wright was placed in custody at the Decatur County Jail. He faces charges of DUI, fleeing or attempting to elude police officers, reckless driving, speeding and violating the seat belt law.
Thomasville GSP Post Commander Sgt. First Class Scott Woodell, says Georgia’s Move Over Law was enacted to protect law enforcement officers. But, he says it also applies to others working on roadsides, such as wrecker servicemen working at an accident scene, electrical crews making repairs during a storm event, EMS and fire crews. “Sometimes you forget about extra curricular traffic when you’re focused and caught up in trying to save a life. If you dart out into the roadway or step too far out and it’s bad timing, the worst can happen,” Woodell says.

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