The driver, Matthew James Snyder, 19, 3805 Shandee Lane, Morristown, allegedly offered the arresting officer an excuse, albeit not legally viable, for his excessive speed.
Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Billy Collier was patrolling Highway 11-W in the westbound lane Sunday around 7:45 p.m. when he observed several motorcycles approaching him in the eastbound lane.
Collier told the Times-News on Monday the lead motorcycle, a 2004 Honda driven by Snyder, was clocked on his radar at 136 mph, although Snyder apparently tried to slow down when the patrol car came into view.
Collier said he turned on his blue lights immediately and then observed the motorcycle accelerate again.
“There was about eight or nine motorcycles, but you could tell this one was going way too fast,” Collier said. “I verified his speed at 136 mph, and he initially started to slow, and then I noticed on the rear radar that he got on it and took off. I noticed him turn off on a road which I knew was a dead end road, and I found him hiding behind a church.”
Snyder was arrested near the Lakeview Boat Access on Quarryville Cemetery Road at the Lakeview Missionary Baptist Church. He was charged with reckless driving, misdemeanor evading arrest, registration violation, failure to show proof of insurance and no motorcycle operator’s license.
Collier said none of Snyder’s companion motorcyclists were speeding. Snyder allegedly told the officer he initially accelerated to get away from a car that was giving him trouble on the highway, and that just happened to occur when the trooper came into view.
“His story matched some of the other guys who were with him,” Collier said. “He was having some sort of problem with a car and he claims he was speeding up to get away from the car. Of course, I recommended that he should have stopped.
“But that’s the reason he said he accelerated like he did, and he said he ran because he got nervous.”
Collier noted that it’s not uncommon to find motorcycles on area roadways traveling at excessive speeds.
He said what surprises him is that there hasn’t been a serious accident, especially with the pursuits which have taken place recently.
In just the past two months in Hawkins County several motorcyclists have been arrested at speeds in excess of 100 mph, including a Rogersville man last month allegedly clocked at 176 mph.
“What’s really uncommon is the number who have been caught recently without incident,” Collier said. “Nobody has wrecked or been injured. At 136 mph if anything happens, even if you’re wearing riding leathers, which this individual wasn’t, your chance of survival is very slim.
“A squirrel in the road, gravel, it doesn’t take much at all to lose control at that speed, and when that happens it’s generally fatal. Common sense on a motorcycle will go a long ways.”