A Waycross man was arrested early today after crashing a pickup truck into a Pierce County patrol unit at the end of a car chase that originated in Pierce County and ended on Swamp Road, said Ware County Sheriff Randy Royal.
Richard Lee Howell, 37, of Astoria Road, was taken into custody on Swamp Road about 3:10 this morning as his 1999 Chevrolet Silverado struck a Pierce County patrol car and crashed into a ditch, said Royal.
Howell remained at a Waycross hospital this morning, said Pierce County Sheriff Ramsey Bennett, after having swallowed a “pretty good quantity of some sort of methamphetamine” at the end of the chase in an obvious effort to conceal evidence.
“When they got him to the hospital, they drew blood and it seems he is looking at some heavy charges,” said Bennett.
He is being charged with driving under the influence with charges for other traffic violations to follow, said Bennett, who added that an attempt was made to pull him over after his truck was seen weaving on Hacklebarney Road.
“Deputy Brad Kicklighter tried to stop the car in Hacklebarney for suspected DUI,” said Bennett. “He then fled into Ware County.”
With blue lights flashing, strobes blinking and sirens blaring, officers pursued Howell west on U.S. 84 and reported that he may have thrown items, possibly drugs, out the driver’s side truck window as he sped along the highway.
Royal said the chase hit speeds of between 65 and 70 mph.
Waycross and Ware County lawmen were alerted by 911 at 2:57 a.m. that a vehicle chase had begun and that Pierce deputies and Blackshear Police Department officers were about to enter Ware County on Plant Avenue (U.S. 84).
“Ware County units immediately began to block intersections on Highway 84 as the chase came into Ware County and then Sgt. John Walthour followed to keep everyone informed of the locations,” said Royal. “When it reached the intersection with Isabella Street, the driver turned left toward Hicks Street and then turned right onto Haines Avenue, then onto Brunel Street and continued down Swamp Road.”
About nine miles south of Waycross on Swamp Road, Royal said, the suspect vehicle rammed a Pierce County patrol unit driven by Kicklighter and the pickup spun out of control and came to rest on the west side of a ditch off the roadway.
Kicklighter and a Blackshear officer, Sgt. Charlie Wichman, took Howell into custody.
No one was injured during the chase, authorities said. Ware County EMTs responded to the scene and Georgia State Patrol Trooper Justin Jones was requested to work the crash site, Royal said.
“It’s my understanding that Howell was taken to the emergency room as a precaution,” said Royal. “Deputy Kicklighter suspected that he may have consumed some type of illegal narcotic immediately after the chase ended.”