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Church Hill man dies in crash during police pursuit

Jeff Bobo • Aug 7, 2014 at 10:39 PM

CHURCH HILL — A Church Hill man was killed early Saturday morning during a police pursuit after the truck he was driving reportedly left a Church Hill roadway at "an extremely high rate of speed," became airborne, and struck an embankment.

Shortly after 4 a.m. Saturday two Hawkins County deputies spotted a 2003 Dodge pickup traveling 80 mph in a 45 mph zone on Carters Valley Road near Church Hill.

HCSO Sgt. Nathan Simpson and Deputy Jeremy Nash, who had just responded together on an unrelated complaint, both reportedly turned on the pickup and attempted a traffic stop.

Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said the truck, which was driven by Matthew D. Maynard, 31, 797 Highridge Drive, Church Hill, turned from Carters Valley Road onto North Central Avenue heading south toward Church Hill.

The truck then turned onto Miller Woods Road, turned around, and came back out onto North Central Avenue.

"When he came off of Miller Woods back onto North Central, he lost control and went straight across the road into an open field," Lawson said. "He got out of his vehicle, and when officers got out of their vehicle, he got back into his vehicle and managed to get his vehicle onto North Central. Then he proceeded south on North Central at an extremely high rate of speed."

Lawson added, "The officers were trying to keep a visual on him, but he came to a curve and kept going straight, and left the right side of the roadway at a high rate of speed."

Lawson noted that before Maynard crashed he almost hit a Church Hill officer head-on who was coming to assist.

Lawson said Maynard intentionally stayed in the left hand lane, and then he swerved into the right lane at the last second to avoid a head-on collision.

According to a preliminary report filed by Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Bobby Bullington, Maynard's truck was traveling east on Collins Street when it left the right side of the roadway and traveled 405 feet before becoming airborne.

Bullington said the truck then jumped a retainment ditch and struck an embankment.

Lawson said it was a horrific crash, and there's no doubt in his mind that Maynard was killed instantly on impact.

The only known motive for Maynard fleeing the traffic stop was a call Central Dispatch received later that Maynard had been seen at a business on Carters Valley Road shortly before the chase occurred, and he'd been drinking.

"The pursuit as recorded on video, and everything the officers did was proper," Lawson said.

The THP is investigating the crash, and video of the pursuit will be turned over to the THP for its investigation.

Maynard wasn't wearing a seatbelt. Bullington stated in his report that a seatbelt could have made a difference.

Maynard's death was the 10th road fatality in Hawkins County this year, followed by the death Tuesday of 18-year-old Ashley Lawson who was killed in a wreck in Rogersville.

Lawson said Wednesday that Hawkins County now has 11 road fatalities in 2014. Last year at this time the county had three.

He said his department will be working with the THP to step up traffic enforcement in hopes of curbing this recent spike in road fatalities.

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