A Waycross man who took Ware County lawmen on a 13-mile lunch hour chase through town at speeds approaching 100 mph was arrested after lawmen pit-maneuvered his car into a ditch near the industrial park, said Ware County Sheriff Randy Royal.
He said deputies and troopers discovered the man had his young sons, ages 1 and 5, in the back seat during the chase. No one was injured, Royal said, adding that ecstasy and spice were also in the car.
Darell Eligha Washington, 43, of 2725 Minnesota Ave., at one point intentionally drove into a Ware County patrol car in the parking lot of a truck stop at George Street and the South Georgia Parkway, then continued the chase onto the South Georgia Parkway for another several minutes, Royal said. The collision inflicted minor damages to each car, Royal said.
Washington is charged with two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer, cruelty to children in the first degree, interference with government property, a brake light violation, several red light violations, numerous stop sign violations, violation of Georgia’s Open Container Law, possession of a drug related object, reckless driving, a seatbelt violation, driving with a suspended license, littering, fleeing and attempting to elude police, said Royal.
“We are just fortunate nobody was seriously injured,” said Royal. “I am thankful it ended without any real consequences to others in the community.”
At 11:57 a.m., Deputy Jeff Nolan attempted to stop Washington’s 2008 Chrysler Sebring on Tebeau Street for a non-functioning brake light and for driving erratically. Washington sped away and, as he approached Carswell Avenue, ran through the red light by the post office, Royal said. He said Washington turned down Brunswick Avenue toward McDonald Street, running a stop sign as he increased speed.
“At that point, Deputy Nolan backed off because of the amount of traffic in the area and fearing for the safety of the public,” said Royal. “He continued to follow the car and saw him turn off the South Georgia Parkway into the parking lot at the truck stop on George Street, driving recklessly through the parking lot at a high rate of speed. That’s where he struck the patrol car, upping his offenses to a felony. Nolan then continued to follow as he turned onto the South Georgia Parkway and headed west, running the red light at Augusta by the college as he turned right onto Augusta.”
Royal said Washington dangerously passing motorists on the single-lane road at a high rate of speed and nearly hit a vehicle at the Carswell Avenue intersection.
“All law enforcement officers know the inherent danger to the public that can come from vehicle pursuits. But after a suspect shows himself willing to commit aggravated assault on a peace officer, it becomes necessary to apprehend him if it can be done safely. I am grateful to my deputies and the GSP troopers who apprehended him safely and am most grateful to the Almighty who protected those children who were hidden within vehicle as well,” said Royal. “I look forward to Mr. Washington’s day in court so he can be held accountable to everyone that he put in this dangerous situation.”
A couple of miles later, Washington’s car vaulted as he crossed the railroad tracks where Augusta Avenue morphs into Blackshear Avenue (at State Street), his car going airborne, Royal said. Losing control, Washington was face to face with a marked patrol vehicle after the spin-out, he said. Washington accelerated toward Nolan’s patrol unit but at the last instant veered to avert a collision and raced east on Blackshear Avenue.
“By that time, other deputies had arrived and were assisting by blocking traffic and clearing intersections ahead of the chase,” Royal said.
Washington turned onto Dorothy Street at a high speed, continued toward Tebeau and made a hard right into the parking lot at the old Food Lion, striking a curb, he said. He exited the lot onto Riverside where he almost struck the rear of a pickup truck, said Royal.
He turned onto Cedar Street, Toomer Street, back onto Dorothy Street (where he almost struck two more vehicles), continued up Dorothy to Tebeau, ran over a curb at 50 mph, turned onto Clough Street and advanced toward Ossie Davis Parkway. At Ossie Davis he ran another stop sign and sped toward Albany Avenue. At Albany and Garlington, Royal said, the car launched into the air, almost striking another vehicle.
Reaching the South Georgia Parkway yet again, Trooper Miles Cooper and Trooper Chris Williams joined in the chase and performed the pit maneuver just beyond the Albany Avenue overpass. Washington’s car spun out and entered a ditch where it came to a stop and Washington was taken into custody.
“That was when we learned that the two little boys were in the back seat of that car,” said Royal.
The boys were checked by Ware County EMTs and taken to the Ware County Sheriff’s Department where they were turned over to Department of Family and Children Services. Case agents then turned the custody of the two boys over to their biological mother.
Lawmen seized from the car several bags of spice, a quantity of MDMA (ecstasy), a set of digital scales, plastic bags used in the distribution of drugs and a cell phone was also seized.