updated 2:19 PM UTC, Oct 15, 2020

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Drunk driver leads deputies on high speed chase

by Emily Waldrep

On June 22, at approximately 3 a.m., Deputy Chuck Marshall and Deputy Kasey Whitworth were dispatched to a suspicious vehicle on County Road 4850 in the Warren area. The complainant said that they had seen someone slumped over in the driver's side of a small car on the county road.

According to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, Deputy Marshall arrived first and observed a pickup driven by the complainant sitting in the roadway, and shortly after he observed the small car pull up behind the truck and rammed the truck in the rear.

Deputy Marshall told the driver to exit the vehicle. At that time, the car backed down the road and turned around to head south on County Road 4850. Deputies Marshall and Whitworth both activated their emergency lights and attempted to stop the vehicle, but the driver refused to pull over.

Deputy Jerry Laurent joined the chase at that time, and they began to pursue the car at speeds of 45mph to 55mph south into Hardin County on County Road 4850, also known as Pineville Road. The suspect vehicle turned right on Gore Store Road, increasing speed to 65mph to 85mph. The suspect vehicle then turned right onto Highway 69 traveling at speeds of 120mph plus back north into Tyler County.

Deputies pursued the vehicle until it turned right onto County Road 4750 to F.M. 1943 East. Deputy Jerry Laurent took the lead in the pursuit when the vehicle turned on 1943 East, until it turned on County Road 4470, which turns into County Road 4472. The suspect vehicle continued on to Allison Cemetery, where it crashed into a light pole.

The suspect vehicle left the light pole, turned around and continued to travel south on County Road 4472 and onto County Road 4470 at speeds of 60mph to 80mph.

The vehicle then returned to Highway 69 south traveling toward Warren when the driver lost control of the vehicle in the southbound lane and left the roadway on the right side of the road. The driver regained control of the vehicle and went back on the roadway, but the vehicle lost its left front tire in the accident.

The driver continued south on Highway 69 and turned left on F.M. 1943 East, also known as Warren-Fred Highway.

Deputies pursued the vehicle until it left the roadway and came to a stop near County Road 4455. Patrol cars immediately surrounded the vehicle, and the driver attempted to back up and struck the front of a patrol car, damaging the left front bumper and headlight. Deputy Whitworth was also parked behind the suspect's vehicle and the vehicle backed up and hit the front of that patrol car as well, causing damage to the bumper.

The suspect in the car refused to comply with deputy's commands. Once it was observed that the driver had no weapons in his hands, the driver was removed through the driver's side window.

The driver, identified as David Chaz Conner, age 22, of Warren was arrested and charged with Evading Arrest or Detention with a Vehicle, two counts of Aggravated Assault of a Public Servant, Driving While Intoxicated 3rd or More and Driving With License Invalid and Previous Conviction, among other pending charges.

"Police are always asked when they should disengage when a pursuit like this begins," Weatherford said. "In this case, when the driver made the aggressive moves of ramming into another vehicle right when the deputies were watching, it was obvious that this person was intoxicated and there was something wrong and they needed to be stopped, so the decision was made to continue the pursuit, due to that and the fact that it was 3 a.m and there was very minimal traffic on the highways and county roads."

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