A police chase, that included neighborhoods and side streets in Boone, could have ended much worse had it not been for the quick actions of an Appalachian State police officer.
Around 8pm on Monday (June 27, 2016) a Boone Police officer responded to a call regarding a black passenger car on Highway 105 South. The car turned up Poplar Hill Drive reaching speeds of approximately 60 mph, through neighborhoods and side streets, before reaching Stadium Drive. As Watauga County Sheriff's Deputies responded to the scene to assist near Stadium Drive, the chase had just ended in a collision.
Lieutenant Darrin Tolbert, Patrol Supervisor with ASU Police, is being credited for his quick action in saving pedestrians in the path of the chase. In responding to the scene, Lieutenant Tolbert quickly observed pedestrians on Rivers Street and Stadium Drive in the path of the pursuit. In doing so, he turned his patrol car into the path of the suspects vehicle ending the chase.
Lieutenant Tolbert tells WataugaOnline.com, “It happened pretty quick. I couldn't let that get farther into campus with all of the pedestrians.” Tolbert added, “It was just a split second decision along with great teamwork from all agencies involved.”
According to law enforcement reports, a female passenger and three children were in the vehicle and all occupants were treated at the scene for minor injuries. The suspect was arrested by Boone Police for Speeding to Elude Arrest (Felony) and three counts of Misdemeanor Child Abuse.
UPDATE FROM BOONE POLICE TUESDAY NIGHT :
Boone, NC – On Monday, June 27, 2016, at approximately 7:55 PM, a Boone Police Officer attempted to stop a vehicle on NC Highway 105 near Ross Chrysler for a traffic violation. The driver of the vehicle, Earnest Richard Dugger, 22 years-of-age, of Mountain City, TN, refused to stop and sped away onto Poplar Hill Drive.
A short chase ensued over to Stadium Drive on the Appalachian State University Campus. A large number of pedestrians were in the immediate vicinity of Stadium Drive. Due to the very high life safety hazard posed by Mr. Dugger’s actions, police vehicles were setup to force Mr. Dugger to slow down or stop. As Mr. Dugger attempted to drive onto a sidewalk around these vehicles, an Appalachian State University Police vehicle struck the side of Mr. Duggers car ending the chase. Inside Mr. Dugger’s vehicle were an adult female passenger and her three children ranging in age from 5 years-old to 11 years-old. It was not known during the pursuit that children were in the vehicle. Watauga Medics responded to the scene as a precaution, but there were no apparent injuries.
Mr. Dugger was charged with Felonious Speeding to Elude Arrest and three counts of Misdemeanor Child Abuse. Mr. Dugger was taken before a Watauga Country Magistrate where a $10,000 secured bond was set pending an August 1, 2016, appearance in Watauga County District Court.
“Dugger was charged with a Felony due to speeding in excess of 15 MPH over the speed limit; reckless driving as proscribed by G.S. 20-140; and driving with a child under 12 years of age in the vehicle. We are very thankful there was no one injured during this incident. I would like to commend the officers who acted with high regard for the safety of the public and responded appropriately.” – Dana Crawford, Chief of Police
Boone Police were assisted by the Appalachian State University Police Department, Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, and North Carolina State Highway Patrol during this incident.