Seeking to avoid arrest on an outstanding warrant, a Waycross man led lawmen on a lengthy chase Monday morning along paved and dirt roads reaching speeds of 90 mph in some areas after nearly running over a Ware deputy, finally crashing the 1999 Chevrolet Silverado into a ditch, said Ware County Sheriff Randy Royal.
At the end of the 34-minute chase, Ray Barton Bertholf, 22, of Nabors Drive, was taken into custody and charged with aggravated assault, felony attempting to elude, reckless driving, numerous stop sign violations, failure to maintain a lane, obstruction of an officer and was served with an outstanding probation warrant, said Royal.
The chase originated at 7:20 a.m. at Albany Avenue and Fulford Road where Deputy Craig Colley saw him behind the wheel and recognized him as being wanted on an outstanding warrant. Royal said the deputy was successful in pulling the truck over and was advising Bertholf to step out of the truck when he instead took off.
“Bertholf took off in the truck and came close to running over Deputy Colley,” said Royal. “The deputy advised 911 and other deputies then came to assist. Deputy Colley followed him with his lights and sirens on as the man failed to stop at the intersection of Fulford Road and the South Georgia Parkway.”
Bertholf continued north to Scapa Road, turned right onto Smith Lane, then onto Kate Drive, then Heidi Drive, then onto Hayley Way, then Cameron Lane, never stopping for any of the stop signs, Royal said.
He continued on Cameron Lane to U.S. 1 North, turning right onto Pebble Hill Road, then onto Sand Hill Farm Road and back left to Nabors Drive.
At that point, Sgt. Mike Thrift and Sgt. Bobby Aldridge, who had joined the chase, watched as Bertholf began to slow almost to a stop in front of a house on Nabors Drive. But he instead took off again, turning back onto Sand Hill Farm Road, back onto Pebble Hill Road and then onto Wooddell Ridge Road before returning to Pebble Hill Road.
The speeding truck turned onto Jamestown Road heading south as other deputies attempted to deploy stop sticks in its path. Royal said he went around the stop sticks and turned onto Ternest Road, continued to Old Waltertown, then to Devandrene and back onto U.S. 1 North.
“They continued to follow him and Sgt. Thrift and Deputy Frank Moran passed him, got ahead of him and attempted to deploy the stop sticks again, but he drove around that attempt as well and continued northbound,” said Royal. “Sgt. Ray and Deputy Moran tried to box him in at Satilla Trail but he went off the road and then returned onto the road, colliding with Moran’s patrol car (causing only slight damage). Sgt. Ray then took the lead and as they approached U.S. 1 and Charlie Ferguson Road, the front wheel of Bertholf’s vehicle fell completely off and it wound up in a ditch there. Sgt. Ray and Sgt. Bobby Aldridge then entered his truck and took him into custody without further incident.”
Bertholf was taken to the Ware County jail where he remained this morning, Royal said.
“I am so thankful that nobody was hurt in all of this. My men did a great job. None of them was injured,” said Royal.