Rogersville police responded to a report Thursday afternoon of a stolen Lincoln Continental headed westbound on Highway 11-W toward Rogersville in excess of 100 mph.
Nelson and other officers exited their patrol cars attempting to clear the westbound lane of vehicles stopped at the red light at the Park Boulevard intersection.
“One of our cruisers got up on the highway at (Route) 70 and clocked him at 108 mph on radar,” Nelson said. “We were getting everybody out of the intersection at Park Boulevard thinking we had about 20 seconds, and he came up over the hill and just about got me — came within inches. He nearly blew me out of the road. I don’t know how I kept from getting hit. I looked up and saw him coming, and I didn’t have time to jump. It felt almost like somebody trying to pick me up.
“We got there just in time to get the other cars out of the way, and I don’t know how anybody kept from getting hit or killed, but he blew right on through past the red light.”
Nelson and his officers had cleared the intersection by having motorists pull onto the shoulder of the highway. Nelson said the driver the of the Lincoln, later identified as Anthony Allen Dixon, 30, couldn’t have stopped, and likely wouldn’t have tried stopping, had the intersection been blocked with vehicles.
Dixon, who was described in his Hawkins County Jail intake sheet as homeless, was not intoxicated but was clearly disturbed, Nelson said.
The vehicle had been reported stolen in Kingsport.
The Times-News contacted the Kingsport Police Department for information about the theft, but the incident was still under investigation.
According to radar, the Lincoln passed through the Park Boulevard intersection at 106 mph when Nelson was nearly struck. Moments later Dixon reportedly attempted to pass a slow truck, lost control, and slid across the highway onto Hasson Street where the Lincoln crashed into a guardrail and two vehicles before coming to rest.
The entire incident was over quickly. The RPD received the call from 911 at 12:10 p.m., and Dixon had wrecked and was in custody at 12:14 p.m.
The two motorists involved in the wreck on Hasson Street were Dr. Ben Chambers, a local optometrist, and Terry Johnson, a Rogersville city employee who was in his personal vehicle on lunch break. Nelson said both men were shaken but not seriously injured.
Dixon suffered cuts and bruises and was treated at the Hawkins County Memorial Hospital emergency room before being taken to jail.
Dixon’s conversation with police was barely coherent after the accident.
“He was jabbering about he’d come down here from New York trying to do something about his daughter,” Nelson said. “All he was talking about when we got him out of the car was, ‘I just gotta get away, I want to get away.’ He wasn’t drunk and he actually had his seat belt on.”
Dixon was charged by Rogersville police with felony reckless endangerment, two counts of aggravated assault on an officer, speeding 108 mph in a 55 mph zone, and driving on a suspended license. And there may be other charges added later.
Nelson said his department had been in contact with Kingsport police, who said they may be adding their own charges later regarding the alleged theft of the car.
Dixon was lodged in the Hawkins County Jail Thursday evening without bond.
Nelson has been in life-threatening encounters before, including a shoot-out with a fugitive several years ago in which the suspect was killed. He said it’s not something you ever get used to.
“We were telling these vehicles, ‘Get over, get over. This car is coming.’ So they were getting over,” Nelson said. “I heard somebody come over the radio saying, ‘There he comes.’ Just as I looked up it was like a dot grew into a mountain and he was right there — and it just about sucked me out of the road. My knees got weak.
“I haven’t come that close to getting killed in a long time, and it still isn’t too fun.”