DUI pursuit stopped just shy of HAAP guard shack

Jeff Bobo • Nov 18, 2019 at 7:30 PM

MOUNT CARMEL — A DUI suspect who turned toward the Holston Army Ammunition Plant entrance during a police pursuit early Saturday morning can thank the Mount Carmel Police Department officer who got him stopped before reaching the guard shack.

Ethan James Budensiek, 20, of Knoxville, may have had bigger problems than DUI and gun possession charges if the pursuit had reached the plant's security checkpoint, where lethal force is an option well known to most local residents.

Police said Budensiek later admitted he had no idea where he was or that he was driving toward a federal explosives plant.

Around 2:20 a.m. Saturday, MCPD officers Hunter Jones and Brad Whitson reportedly observed a silver Nissan Altima traveling east on Highway 11-W at 84 mph in a 55 mph zone near the Englewood Avenue intersection.

According to a report filed by Jones, they caught up to the vehicle and activated blue lights and siren. The driver, later identified as Budensiek, refused to stop.

Upon entering Kingsport, the vehicle turned south on University Boulevard toward the entrance to the Holston Army Ammunition Plant (BAE Systems).

“At that time, I pulled around the vehicle and got in front of the vehicle in an attempt to stop the Nissan before reaching the guard shack,” Jones stated in his report. “The Nissan then almost struck the side of my patrol car but eventually came to a stop.”

MCPD Chief Ken Lunsford Jr. told the Times News on Monday that Budensiek was so intoxicated he thought he was still in Knoxville.

“Hunter Jones knew it was going to be bad, and he had to stop him before he got to the guard sack,” Lunsford said. “Officer Jones knew it was a matter of national security.”

Upon being stopped, Budensiek complied with Jones' command to exit his vehicle, and he was taken into custody.

Budensiek reportedly smelled of alcohol and stated, I'll admit it. I'm drunk.”

Jones said a Taurus handgun was located in the glove box, and an open can of  White Claw Hard Seltzer was in the center console.

Budensiek was charged with underage driving while impaired, possession of a handgun by an intoxicated person, unlawful possession of a weapon, speeding, failure to stop for blue lights and possession of an open alcohol container.

He was arraigned Monday in Hawkins County Sessions Court and released from jail on $5,000 bond.

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