One arrested following chase on I-26, I-81; two suspects bail from vehicle before spike strips deployed

Rain Smith • Apr 28, 2010 at 12:00 AM

A Wednesday morning high-speed chase that began on I-26 between Kingsport and Johnson City, and ended with spike strips deployed about 40 miles away on I-81 in Greene County, has prompted the arrest of a Knoxville man on numerous charges.

According to Tennessee Highway Patrol spokesman Mike Browning, at one point two other individuals exited the car and fled on foot. Browning directed inquires on those people to Kingsport police, who had no record of their arrests.

The KPD watch commander says records indicate Kingsport police responded, detained two individuals, then released them to the THP. When contacted again, Browning said the pair must not have been charged or arrested.

The incident began at mile marker 18 of I-26, at about 3:17 a.m. Trooper Josh Orlowski was running radar in the area when a westbound 2010 Chevy Malibu was allegedly clocked at 85 mph in a 55 mph zone.

Orlowski attempted to initiate a stop, but the vehicle continued at a high rate of speed. Browning said that around mile marker 10 of I-26, just inside Kingsport city limits at Eastern Star Road, the Malibu pulled to the side. That's when the two passengers exited the car and ran.

The Malibu continued on I-26 to the interchange with I-81, then headed south. Orlowski maintained his pursuit, with speeds reaching about 120 mph.

As the chase continued, Trooper Tyler Hall laid down spike strips near I-81's mile marker 24 in Greene County. Browning said the Malibu hit the strips, blew its tires, and continued a short distance before stopping.

The suspect then attempted to exit the vehicle and run, making it about 100 yards before being apprehended by Orlowski.

The driver, identified by Browning as Demarquise Welch, 26, of Knoxville, Tenn., was also found to be in possession of a firearm. He was arrested and transported to the Washington County Detention Center.

Welch is facing numerous charges, including felony reckless endangerment, felony evading arrests, driving under the influence, possession of a firearm by a felon, driving on suspended licence and possession of a firearm while under the influence.

Browning and personnel at the Washington County jail did not immediately know what Welch was previously convicted of.

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