On Sunday evening, Mount Carmel Police Department Officer Chris Vaughan was watching a residence on Carters Valley Road where drug activity was suspected and a fight had taken place the previous night.
Shortly after 7 p.m., a black 1990 Ford Thunderbird which had been parked in the driveway of the home the previous night stopped in front of the residence in the westbound lane of the roadway.
Vaughan then followed the vehicle, during which time he determined the wrong license plate was on the car. He then clocked the car traveling 58 mph in a 45 mph zone.
When Vaughan attempted to conduct a traffic stop, the driver, later identified as Austin Wayne Hinkle, 21, 1001 Tranbarger Drive, Kingsport, allegedly accelerated and passed a vehicle in a no passing zone.
As the Thunderbird sped west on Carters Valley Road, Vaughan reportedly observed someone throw a baggy out of the car near the Hurd Road intersection, and then a second baggy was tossed near Jones Road.
The pursuit continued west on Carters Valley Road into Church Hill, where Hinkle turned south onto North Central Avenue.
At that time Vaughan reportedly observed there were three passengers in the car, all of whom were holding up their arms, which the officer perceived as an indication they weren’t willing participants in the chase.
As Vaughn approached Main Boulevard, the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office and Church Hill Police Department took over the pursuit.
CHPD Officer Dustin Dean stated in his report that he encountered the Thunderbird near the Miller Wood Road intersection, where it slowed and then swerved toward him in an attempt to strike his patrol vehicle.
The Thunderbird then veered off of the right side of the roadway to avoid contact and continued south at a high rate of speed, where it allegedly passed three vehicles illegally at 70 mph in a 30 mph zone and ran a red light at Main Boulevard, nearly striking two vehicles.
Dean broke off the pursuit at Highway 11-W due to public safety concerns, but HCSO Deputy Anthony Crosby indicated it crossed 11-W south and onto Silver Lake Road.
“I went to the intersection of Silver Lake and Ordnance Drive and again tried to slow or stop the suspect vehicle,” Dean stated in his report. “As the vehicle approached me, it swerved into my lane and came within two feet of striking my police vehicle before continuing toward 11-W. I observed the suspect vehicle pass three more vehicles on the wrong side of the roadway at the Food City entrance before sliding into a ditch as it merged onto 11-W.”
Vaughan noted that the Thunderbird blew a tire while attempting to turn east onto 11-W, resulting in a single-vehicle crash.
Dean stated, “The driver exited the vehicle and fled on foot toward Food City. He was apprehended after a brief foot chase.”
Vaughan added, “The passengers stayed inside the car and stated they wanted no part in what happened and appeared to be very shocked about what took place.”
A 9mm Hi-Point pistol and a syringe were allegedly recovered from the vehicle.
The MCPD charged Hinkle with felony evading arrest, three counts of felony reckless endangerment, possession of drug paraphernalia, speeding, unlawful possession of a gun, driving on a revoked license third offense and multiple other traffic charges.
The CHPD charged Hinkle with reckless driving, speeding 70/30, running a red light and reckless endangerment.
Hinkle was held in the Hawkins County Jail on $35,000 bond and was scheduled to appear in Sessions Court Monday morning.