Chase is on after teen biker pops wheelie in front of police

Jeff Bobo • Apr 25, 2007 at 11:39 AM

CHURCH HILL - A 16-year-old Volunteer High School student allegedly led police on a high-speed motorcycle chase Wednesday morning, exceeding 100 mph at times, after popping a wheelie in view of a police officer.

The boy ran out of gas just as he crossed the Rogersville town line near the Metro Auto Group dealership on Highway 11-W and was taken into custody.

Church Hill Police Chief Mark Johnson said the boy was pulling out from Center Street west onto 11-W on a 1999 Suzuki 600 motorcycle about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday when he popped a wheelie. The wheelie was observed by Officer Chip Whitaker, who attempted to perform a traffic stop, at which time the boy allegedly accelerated in excess of 80 mph.

"(Patrol car video) tape shows Whitaker attempting to stop him for about 60 seconds and then terminating due to traffic safety considerations," Johnson said. "At that point, (Hawkins County Sheriff's Office) Sgt. Scott Alley was in the area and began to pursue the motorcycle. A radio transmission was made in which Alley requested Whitaker to assist him.

"(Video) tape shows motorcycle narrowly missing multiple vehicles while fleeing."

Alley stated in his report that he pulled out in front of the motorcycle at Kingsport Press Road, and the boy passed him, hitting speeds up to 100 mph during the pursuit. Alley stated that he passed the motorcycle again, and the motorcycle then passed him back and struck the side of his patrol car.

As the pursuit continued, the motorcycle passed several cars from the emergency lane, Alley stated in his report.

The motorcycle began to sputter as the pursuit reached Rogersville and then ran out of gas. The motorcycle left the roadway heading toward a wooded area, and Alley reportedly nudged it with the front of his patrol car, knocking the bike over.

The boy jumped off and removed his helmet, and t which time Alley and Whitaker took him into custody.

Johnson said the boy had nine pills in his possession at the time of his arrest. "They were various narcotics," Johnson said. "We've got to send them all to the lab, but the preliminary indication is that they're painkillers, sedatives, things like that."

The boy was apparently on his way to school when the pursuit began.

He was charged with speeding, reckless endangerment, felony evading arrest, aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, violation of the Tennessee Drug Control Act, possession of legend drugs without a prescription, driving a motorcycle without a motorcycle license, violation of the registration law, and possession of an altered tag. The tag's expiration year had allegedly been altered with a marker from 2001 to 2007.

"This kid had no regard for anyone's safety - motorists or police," Johnson said. "I'd like to see him get another chance at a driver's license about the time he turns 30 years old."

The boy was lodged in a secure juvenile holding facility.

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