Just before 3:30am Sunday morning (May 8, 2016) a Watauga County Sheriff's Deputy attempted to stop a vehicle on Old 421 South near Wildcat Road after spotting the vehicle speeding and completely left of center in the opposite lane of travel. The vehicle, a black Honda Civic, sped up and attempted to flee as the Deputy attempted to stop it. The vehicle then turned its headlights off while traveling at a high rate of speed, proceeded onto 421 South towards Wilkes County where the speed of the pursuit increased to 100+ MPH. The Sheriff's office noted in the report that since it was such an early hour on Sunday “Luckily there was no traffic on the roadway”. Sheriff Hagaman added that had the chase occurred most any time other than that time of the morning it would have highly likely to be terminated due to traffic and possible accident concerns.
The vehicle traveled 421 South and just prior to the Wilkes County line turned right onto Mt. Zion Road. Near Flowers Branch Road the deputy lost sight of the vehicle and a perimeter was set up with the help of Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office and NCSHP. Deputies at the time believed they knew the identity of the operator of the suspect vehicle. A short time later the suspect’s father was seen in the area driving around and appeared to be alone and very nervous, the report noted. The father told deputies he was just out riding around. 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. Church, age 25 of 107 Ford Hollars Road, Deep Gap, was placed 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. Church received a $15,000 secured bond and released to detention. There are more charges pending in this case.