Driver who ignited Monday search still not found

Rain Smith • Feb 18, 2014 at 8:24 PM

KINGSPORT — State police have released a few new details about Monday's manhunt in the area of Tri-Cities Crossing — where a helicopter was in the air, multiple local agencies were called to assist, and a deputy was stationed at a nearby school as a precaution.As of late Tuesday afternoon, police had not located a driver believed to have fled his crashed pickup, igniting the hours-long search. Tennessee Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Sgt. Bill Miller tells the Times-News that the vehicle, a Ford Ranger, was totaled in the Monday morning incident, a single-vehicle wreck near mile marker 56 of Interstate 81.Miller says the pickup was not being pursued by the THP when the incident occurred, but may have been involved in a previous pursuit involving a local law enforcement agency. No tag number was obtained in that earlier incident, according to Miller, but the vehicle description matched.When a THP trooper arrived at the crash scene on I-81, the driver had reportedly already fled the scene. THP correspondence with the Times-News has only mentioned a single

suspect and did not specify if there were passengers in the vehicle

when it wrecked.

The pickup had not been reported stolen, according to Miller. He said the presence or absence of any drugs in the vehicle couldn't be confirmed until preliminary information was available from the troopers working the incident.In their search for a driver following the crash, the THP requested assistance from multiple local law enforcement agencies, including the Kingsport Police Department and Sullivan County Sheriff's Office. Miller confirmed that a helicopter was involved in the search, with witnesses telling the Times-News it was overhead in both the morning hours and again in the afternoon.Miller says that at one point a suspect was spotted hiding in a nearby construction site. Police believe the suspect may have called an individual to respond and provide a ride from the area.Miller reports no identity had been confirmed by name, but photo lineups had established a suspect by appearance.As police searched the vicinity of the I-81 and I-26 interchange on Monday, a Sullivan County Sheriff's Office school resource officer responded to Miller Perry Elementary School, located nearby on Fordtown Road.An SCSO report says school personnel were advised not to let anyone inside until police arrived, while students were not allowed outside for the rest of the day.The report notes the school was not officially put on "lockdown" as there was "never any danger from the unknown suspect." Miller says the incident remains under investigation by the THP and more information might be released later in the week.

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