A McAlester man was in custody Thursday following an early-morning pursuit in and around the Haileyville and Dow areas that police said ended after the driver pulled onto U.S. Highway 270, collided with another vehicle and took off on foot.
Deputies pursued the driver and arrested Brian Wayne Davis, 25, of McAlester, said Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris. The sheriff said Davis was transported to McAlester Regional Health Center following the crash and later booked into the Pittsburg County Jail, where he was bing held without bond on multiple complaints.
The driver of the other vehicle that collided with the truck was identified as Amber Armstrong, of Hartshorne, who was treated and released from the McAlester hospital.
Davis remained in the Pittsburg County Jail on Thursday where he was booked on initial complaints of driving under the influence, drugs; larceny of an auto, eluding; receiving, possessing or concealing stolen property and assault and battery with a deadly weapon. He was also booked on previously-issued arrest warrants.
A series of events leading up to the crash began around 3:54 a.m. when Pittsburg County sheriff’s deputies took a report that a 2006 Dodge Dakota had been stolen from a rural area on Anderson Road, near the vicinity of Frink-Chambers Public School, Morris said. Later on Thursday morning, a report came in around 7:50 a.m. that the truck had been spotted on State Highway 63.
Haileyville Police Chief David Johnston said he heard radio traffic early Thursday that the stolen truck had been spotted near Highway 63 and Bache Road.
“That’s not far away from our jurisdiction,” Johnston said. He said he told the sheriff’s office he would try to set up a traffic stop at the Haileyville football field, that’s just off the highway.
Before he got to the field, the driver of a vehicle matching the description of the stolen truck passed him heading in the opposite direction, according to Johnston. The police chief said he made a U-turn and headed east back to Haileyville.
“He turned on Doyle Street, trying to elude me,” Johnston said. The police chief said the driver ran a stop sign and headed back toward Highway 63.
At that point, Johnston said he activated his lights and siren, but, he said, the driver proceeded to U.S. Highway 270.
The driver of the fleeing vehicle ran the stop sign, almost creating accidents, Johnston said, referring to the chaos that ensued when he saw the driver pull onto the highway into the path of on-coming traffic as other drivers slammed on the brakes or swerved to try and avoid collisions.
“He put people’s lives in jeopardy,” said Johnston.
The Haileyville police chief then pursued pursued the driver as the stolen truck headed east on Highway 270 and continued north, heading toward Dow. Johnston, who estimated he was the length of three or four city blocks behind the truck, said the other driver “was passing vehicles on the left and right.”
At one point during the pursuit, the driver of the truck pulled over and a woman stepped out of the vehicle, Johnston said. She would remain with police until the pursuit ended, but she was not arrested, according to authorities.
As the driver turned off the highway at the Brushy Creek Bridge, he executed a series of turns, drove back to the highway and finally headed back toward Haileyvillle on U.S. Highway 270, Johnston said. At one point, the driver slammed on the brakes and an 18-wheeler passed him, according to Johnston, reporting another near-miss.
As the pursuit resumed, Johnston said the other driver was reaching speeds of almost 100 miles per hour.
“He goes into Haileyville and turned south,” Johnston said, relating that the driver headed onto Horine Street in residential Haileyville. By this time, officers with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the Pittsburg County Sheriff’s Department had also traveled to Haileyville and were assisting in efforts to try and stop the driver.
“He was in a residential area driving at a very, very high rate of speed,” Johnston said. As the driver turned onto Doyle Street, he appeared to momentarily lose control of the truck, according to Johnston. The Haileyville police chief said he tried again to stop the driver.
“I’m in my vehicle; I’m stopped,” Johnston said. “He’s spinning out and he comes completely to a 360.” That’s when the other vehicle headed back toward him, according to the police chief.
“His front end of the stolen vehicle rams the front of my truck,” Johnston said. The police chief said the driver sped away again, eventually traveling down a road that intersected with U.S. Highway 270, where the driver ran another stop sign and pulled out in front of the vehicle driven by Armstrong, which Johnston said T-boned the stolen truck.
The truck spun out-of control. Johnston said at that point, his attention turned to Armstrong, the driver of the car involved in the collision, as he checked to see how badly she was injured.
After the driver identified as Davis fled on foot, Pittsburg County Sheriff’s Deputies Mike Coffman and John Young pursued him and took him into custody after he was spotted behind a tree. He was then transported to the McAlester Regional Health Center, before being discharged and taken to jail.
Minutes before the collision, Armstrong had dropped two young twins off at a daycare center and stopped by Hartshorne City Hall. She said she was heading west on Highway 270 toward her job at a McAlester pharmacy when she spotted the truck as the driver ran a stop sign.
“He came across; he came through the stop sign,” she said. “I slammed on my brakes.” Armstrong said her car T-boned the truck.
When the vehicles slammed together, Armstrong said the air bags in her car deployed with such force that it broke her fingernails down to the “quick.”
“I opened my door. I could already hear sirens,” said Armstrong, who did not know at the time that law enforcement officers were in pursuit of the other driver.
The truck had spun around from the collision, Armstrong said. Her first thoughts were to check on the other driver.
“I went to the truck that was over the rail,” Armstrong said. “I asked if he was all right; he was coming out the window.” She said the driver, who police later identified as Davis, didn’t answer her. After he exited the wrecked tuck, he ran into a nearby wooded area, police said.
When Johnston pulled up to the site of the wreckage, Armstrong recalls telling him “I tried to stop; I tried to stop.” She said she was told it was not her fault, that the other driver was driving a stolen vehicle.
Family members drove from Elm Point to take her to the hospital, she said.
Armstrong said Thursday she’s bruised, sore and has some swelling. She figures her car, a 2010 Buick Enclave, was totaled in the collision.
She said she has two children of her own and is also raising two more children, making it four in all. Although Armstrong’s distressed at what happened, she realizes it could have been much worse.
“I couldn’t help from thinking ... four kids wouldn’t have a mother,” she said.
Contact James Beaty at firstname.lastname@example.org