Suspect flees wrong way

Published 11:59 pm Monday, September 14, 2009

A high-speed pursuit landed a Tennessee man in jail Sunday after law enforcement officers allegedly caught him driving while intoxicated and on the wrong side of U.S. Hwy. 84.

Ryan Douglas Criswell, 21, of Dyer, Tenn., was first observed by Covington County Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Connor shortly after midnight near Deep South Tractor Company, Chief Deputy David Anderson said Monday.

“Criswell was sitting in the middle of the road near the John Deere tractor place in the westbound lane of 84,” Anderson said. “When Deputy Connor pulled up behind him and turned on his emergency lights, the vehicle turned in a cut through road and continued eastbound on 84.”

Anders said when Deputy Connor pulled in behind the suspect’s vehicle he noticed the speed and erratic manner of the driver.

“We’re talking in excess of 90 miles per hour,” Anderson said. “Then at the Covington Baptist Association building, Criswell lost control of the vehicle, went through the median and into the westbound lane of 84. The vehicle continued traveling eastbound in the westbound lane at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour, with two deputies pursuing him.”

Anderson said the deputies continued to travel behind Criswell “with lights and sirens” in an effort not only to get him to stop but also to warn oncoming traffic.

“(Criswell) ran approximately four vehicles off the road in oncoming traffic,” he said.

The pursuit continued to the Lighter Knot Creek bridge at the T Grocery, where Opp Police Department officers had placed “stop sticks” to disable the vehicle.

“That maneuver was successful, with the strips deflating the front two tires of the vehicle,” he said. “(Criswell) was then stopped, detained and arrested.”

Criswell was charged with four counts of reckless endangerment, driving while under the influence of alcohol and attempting to elude under the new Keith Houts Act.

“Luckily no one was injured, which makes the attempt a misdemeanor,” said Sheriff Dennis Meeks. “The officers involved should be commended in handling the situation, which could have had a much different ending when considering the excessive speeds.”

Criswell was booked into the Covington County Jail shortly before 3 a.m. Sunday and held on a $25,000 bond. He has since been released.