Rogersville police catch motorcycle rider after pursuit that hit 135 mph

Jeff Bobo • Jul 23, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Rogersville police chased down a man fleeing from a traffic stop on a motorcycle late Saturday night in and around Rogersville at speeds that reportedly reached 135 mph.

Rogersville Police Department Officer Joey Maddox stated in his report that he was monitoring traffic on Highway 11-W about 10 p.m. Saturday when he noticed a motorcycle pull up to the Park Boulevard intersection and then run a red light as the bike pulled onto the highway.

The motorcycle, which police later determined was driven by Randall Henson Phillips, 41, 697 Lee Valley Road, Whitesburg, accelerated to a high rate of speed, according to the report, and turned north on Route 66.

Police said Phillips was driving a Honda motorcycle that had been stolen in Grainger County. Phillips was also wanted on a fugitive warrant from Wise County, Va., for allegedly throwing a missile at an occupied vehicle, a felony, as well as driving on a suspended license and eluding police.

Maddox stated in his report that when he attempted to initiate a traffic stop, the motorcycle accelerated again and turned into the wrong lane to pass vehicles.

As the chase began on Route 66, the motorcycle was allegedly traveling at speeds up to 80 mph in and out of the wrong lane of traffic, and then turned onto Choptack Road, still traveling at speeds up to 70 mph in and out of the wrong lane.

The chase then wound up on Highway 11-W again, where police said Phillips turned the motorcycle eastbound. Maddox stated in his report that initially they reached 120 mph, and as they passed the Metro Auto Group they were at 135 mph.

By this time other officers including Police Chief Doug Nelson had joined the pursuit.

"On 11-W where there's a turnoff lane, he would just switch over into the oncoming lane," Nelson said. "He was over to the edge, but he was still meeting traffic head on. He'd do that for a while, and then he'd come back over.

"That's crazy, and it's a good way to get killed."

Phillips then made a turn onto Long Hollow Road. Nelson said it was evident that Phillips wasn't familiar with that narrow, winding road, as he slowed down to about 10 to 20 mph. Nelson and other officers were able to box Phillips in, and the bike went down as it nudged Nelson's tire.

Phillips was taken into custody, and after receiving medical attention for minor injuries, was charged with 14 counts, most of which were traffic related. The most serious charges included possession of stolen property, felony evading arrest, and reckless endangerment.

Theft charges are also pending from Grainger County, and Wise County was planning to extradite Phillips on their charges.

"He wasn't drunk or anything, and he was apologetic about it later," Nelson said. "Like anybody else, I think he starts running, and then he just gets scared and don't know when to quit. I'm just glad he didn't wreck, especially going that fast."

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