HINESVILLE, Ga. - A high-speed chase that began at Fort Stewart ended Saturday afternoon when four McIntosh County sheriff's deputies pursuing a motorcycle rider totaled their patrol cars on Interstate 95 near Darien.
The chase began at an undetermined location on the Fort Stewart reservation shortly after 12:30 p.m., said Georgia State Patrol Trooper Quincy Melvin and Liberty County Sheriff's Deputy Adam Denton.
That's when U.S. Army Military Police officers attempted to stop the motorcyclist within the boundaries of the installation. They were going to cite the biker for excessive speeding and reckless driving.
When the motorcycle rider sped up, they added attempting to flee and elude a police officer.
Denton said he received a radio message that the Fort Stewart MPs were not succeeding in stopping the biker, who sped off the installation on Old Sunbury Road, continuing onto U.S. 84/Ga. 38 toward Hinesville.
With the military police still in pursuit, the biker then made a U-turn to go east toward Midway.
Denton said he joined the chase where U.S. 84 intersects with Holmstown Road. He said traffic was very light during the chase, which soon involved Liberty County sheriff's Lt. Orrin Nestor, too.
"We were hitting speeds well over 100," said Denton, who was in the lead as the convoy of officers sped into Midway, sirens blaring and emergency lights popping like colored flashbulbs. "I pulled up beside the motorcyclist, who was driving in the left lane, and told him to pull over."
But the biker ignored the order and continued to accelerate. Denton described him as a white male with short-cropped hair, wearing a white T-shirt under a white button-up shirt that had gray checkered lines on the front. The biker also wore blue jeans and white shoes.
Denton thinks the fugitive's motorcycle was a Kawasaki. He said it did not have a license tag.
At the U.S. 84 intersection with Interstate 95, the biker turned south onto the freeway.
Never slowed down
The pursuit continued at speeds of 100 mph or more, Denton said. At one point, the pursuing officers attempted to box the cyclist in - but that didn't work.
As the pursuit entered McIntosh County at exit 57, McIntosh deputies had the exit ramps blocked off in the event the cyclist attempted to leave the interstate.
But the biker stayed on I-95.
Denton said that when the McIntosh deputies watched as he and Nestor sped past the exit, four McIntosh lawmen began to pursue the motorcyclist.
At that point, Denton said, he and his fellow deputies broke off the chase to return to Liberty County.
Melvin, the state trooper investigating the accident, said that as the four McIntosh sheriff's patrol cars were going past exit 49 just northwest of Darien, one of the deputies attempted to pass the others on the right and almost ran up against the rear end of a truck in the freeway's right lane.
The deputy attempted to swing back into the left lane, Melvin said, but he lost control, striking one of the other patrol cars and causing it to spin and hit a retaining wall.
The other two deputies, seeing what happened, attempted to stop - causing one to hit the rear end of the other, Melvin said. All four vehicles came to an abrupt halt and were damaged extensively, he said. The four deputies complained of minor injuries, but there was no word about whether they sought medical treatment.
Traffic backs up
As the sheriff's patrol cars collided and put the deputies out of commission, the motorcyclist continued to speed south. Meanwhile, traffic behind him on I-95 came to a standstill for several hours.
The incident remained under investigation late Saturday.
The damaged patrol cars were taken to the McIntosh County Sheriff's Department in Darien.
A reporter trying to photograph the patrol cars was rebuffed by McIntosh Sheriff Stephen Jessup, who said a media report would be issued.
The identities of the McIntosh deputies involved in the chase were not made available. And a worker in the jail section of the McIntosh County Sheriff's Department was not aware Saturday night of any news releases being issued in the biker pursuit.