The pursuit of a reckless motorist from Adamsville through much of Hardin County on Wednesday ended with the arrest of the alleged driver in Lebanon, Tennessee – approximately 155 miles away on the east side of Nashville – early this morning.
Matthew Ross, 31, of Bartlett, near Memphis, was arrested by Lebanon police on warrants from the Adamsville Police Department after local officers broke off pursuit.
Police video of the chase on Florence Road shows the driver being pursued driving fast and passing recklessly, running vehicles off the road.
Ross is currently charged with two counts of felony evading arrest, two counts of reckless driving and four counts of failure to observe traffic control devices, authorities said.
Adamsville Assistant Chief of Police Daniel Vandiver said this morning additional charges could be filed against Ross.
Vandiver said deciding whether to initiate a potentially hazardous chase is always difficult, but “we have specific criteria… which essentially comes down to whether a driver poses a threat to the life or safety of others.
“In this case, the guy was driving so recklessly without pursuit I felt it was justified. I’d rather pursue than risk some random innocent person being killed.”
Vandiver said APD Officer Rick Chandler had been running radar in Adamsville and saw the blue 2018 Chevrolet Malibu that Ross is alleged to have been driving pass his position traveling 68 mph in a 30 mph zone, at 2:20 p.m.
Chandler began pursuit of the vehicle heading south on Tenn. 117, toward Stantonville, but knew there was “horse and buggy” traffic in the area, so he decided to break off pursuit for safety reasons.
Approximately 40 minutes later, around 3 p.m., Vandiver and Chandler were at Adamsville Junior-Senior High School to work traffic control when school dismissed for the day.
“We heard a car accelerate loudly, like they’d just punched the accelerator, and turned around to see a blue Chevy doing about 80 mph in the oncoming lanes of traffic, and blow right past us,” Vandiver said.
He said Chandler told him he thought it was the same car he’d clocked speeding over twice the speed limit earlier, and Vandiver decided to try to stop the driver.
“He was driving in oncoming traffic – when I started following him and got to where I could see him ahead, he blew through the red light coming into town like it was not even there. If he was going to drive like that without pursuit, I felt I had to pursue to try to stop him,” Vandiver said.
Vandiver said he followed the driver east on U.S. 64, through Crump into Savannah, turning onto Water Street. There, two Hardin County Sheriff’s Office deputies joined the chase, turning south on Tenn. 69-Florence Road.
“He ran the red light at 69, was running people off the road; he drove off the side of the road into the grass and gravel by the bowling alley – I don’t know how he didn’t wreck out there – into the oncoming lane several times,” Vandiver continued.
The assistant police chief said he tried to force the driver off the road at one point when clear of other traffic. Vandiver said the driver seemed to try to ram him, but the vehicles never made contact.
Pursuing officers, supervisors, and dispatchers from Hardin County E-911 were heard on the radio throughout the pursuit asking officers to report their speed and direction, so officers in the area could try to clear or block roads of oncoming traffic and minimize danger as much as possible.
Eventually, Hardin County Chief Deputy Mike Fielder advised the pursuing deputies to break off the pursuit for safety reasons. Vandiver said at that point he decided to discontinue his pursuit as well. He’d followed the blue Chevrolet Malibu for 17.5 miles.
This morning, Hardin County Sheriff-elect Johnny Alexander said, “Our officers were assisting until it got too dangerous, then we ended our involvement.”
Hardin County E-911 put out a public BOLO (Be On the Lookout) for the vehicle with the description, including a West Virginia license plate number. It was discovered the vehicle was owned by Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
Police also learned Ross was likely the driver of the car through the rental record.
Vandiver said he received a phone call from Ross’ mother about 8 Wednesday night, and she told him she had rented the car for her son. She described her son as a heavy meth user, and said he was trying to get to Nashville, according to Vandiver.
Shortly after midnight, APD Officer Ryan Burlesci discovered the rental car was equipped with OnStar, a GPS location service, and requested that OnStar “ping” the vehicle’s location. At the time it was moving near Nashville.
A short time later OnStar pinged it again, and discovered it was stationary, in Lebanon. Vandiver said Lebanon authorities converged on the car and “boxed it in,” arresting Ross in the process.
Ross is being held at the Wilson County jail, awaiting transfer back to McNairy County.