Guilty conscience: Suspect in pursuit reaches 101 mph before crashing

Jeff Bobo • Nov 20, 2017 at 5:45 PM

CHURCH HILL — Hawkins County Deputy Jason Montgomery wasn't attempting to pull over Heath Dudley Drinnon early Saturday north of Church Hill until the habitual motor offender apparently suffered a bout of guilty conscience and decided to flee.

Shortly before 2 a.m. Saturday, Montgomery was patrolling Carters Valley Road near the Looney Gap Road intersection when he came up behind an eastbound 1995 Dodge Dakota driven by Drinnon, 42, 151 Beaver Lane, Rogersville.

When Drinnon noticed a patrol car behind him, he reportedly accelerated, leading police on a high-speed chase reaching speeds in excess of 100 mph.

Montgomery stated in his report that Drinnon led police on a chase eastbound on Carters Valley Road, during which time Drinnon allegedly crossed the center line and traveled on both sides of the highway.

Drinnon then turned off the highway and attempted to elude deputies on the back roads.

While attempting to negotiate a curve on Morning Star Road, Drinnon struck a mailbox and several concrete blocks, and then veered into a field, where his pickup came to a stop several hundred yards from the roadway.

Drinnon then reportedly fled from the crashed vehicle, leaving his 26-year-old female passenger behind. Deputies located Drinnon hiding in the woods about 500 yards from the crashed vehicle.

Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Tony Allen said Drinnon wasn't under suspicion and wouldn't have been pulled over if he hadn't fled inexplicably.

"He's a habitual motor offender and he thought we were after him," Allen said. “We weren’t after him until he accelerated and took off.”

Drinnon was charged with felony evading arrest, reckless driving, reckless endangerment, leaving the scene of an accident, evading arrest by foot, speeding 101 in a 45 mph zone, and violation of the Habitual Motor Offender Act.

He was held without bond over the weekend pending arraignment in Hawkins County Sessions court Monday morning.

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