ROGERSVILLE - Joshua Tipton attempted to chase down the vandals he witnessed damage his and his neighbor's mailboxes early Sunday morning, but the vandals got away after ramming Tipton's vehicle and pushing it off the road.
After the wreck Tipton, 18, 424 Early Branch Road, Rogersville, walked to a nearby residence on Grassy Creek Road to call 911.
Tipton told deputies that about 12:10 a.m. Sunday he observed a green General Motors SUV vandalizing the mailboxes, and he gave chase in his Buick Regal in an attempt to obtain a license plate number from the SUV.
"When they got to 987 Grassy Creek Road, the SUV rammed his (Tipton's) vehicle in reverse," Hawkins County Sheriff's Office Deputy Chris Funk said. "The SUV then continued up Grassy Creek and went into the Grassy Creek Baptist Church parking lot. At this point the SUV was behind the complainant and trying to ram him from the rear.
"(Tipton's car) dropped into a ditch, and the SUV pushed his vehicle from the roadway off an embankment and into a tree at 1739 Grassy Creek Road."
Funk stated in his report that Tipton's vehicle, valued at $3,200, was severely damaged and Tipton suffered minor injuries. He was treated and released from Holston Valley Medical Center.
During the chase, Tipton was speaking to a 911 dispatcher attempting to read the license plate number, but his cell phone was breaking up. By the time he spoke to Funk at the scene he was unsure of the plate number, offering three possible tag numbers - 365-CSK, 365-KCS and 365-CKS.
Sheriff Roger Christian said Monday his detectives are attempting to match the vehicle description with those tag options but had been unable to thus far. Anyone with information about the green GMC SUV is asked to contact the Hawkins County Sheriff's Office at 272-4848.
Detectives are investigating a rash of vandalism, mostly involving mailboxes, which occurred this past weekend.
Aside from the damaged mailboxes of Tipton and his neighbor Sunday, there were two reports of mailbox damage on Brown's Mountain Road, another on Beech Creek Road, a walking bridge damaged on Brown's Mountain Road, and damage at Brown's Mountain Baptist Church including three broken windows, damage to the outhouse, and damage to the outhouse electrical line.
On Saturday there was one report of a damaged mailbox on Beech Creek Road.
On Friday there were several reports of mailbox tampering on Lauderback Gap Road, although the number of victims was not specified.