A driver’s license checkpoint on Highway 8 led to a high-speed chase Friday morning when a motorist zoomed past officers and refused to stop.
Rock Island resident Joshua Walling, 34, was arrested on Highway 55 near WCHS after a life-threatening chase that included several near collisions with oncoming vehicles. Walling faces a docket full of charges, including 15 counts of reckless endangerment for the officers and vehicles he placed in danger.
He is also charged with DUI, evading arrest, resisting arrest, two counts of violation of probation, possession of drug paraphernalia, and failure to appear.
The incident began Friday morning on Highway 8 at its intersection with Fairview Road where the Tennessee Highway Patrol had organized a driver’s license checkpoint. Officers began stopping vehicles around 8 a.m. and had just gotten underway when Walling approached in a black Chevy pickup.
“We tried to get him to stop, but he gunned it and came right through,” said state trooper Rodney Whiles. “Then the chase was on. We’re very, very lucky no one was hurt.”
According to reports, Walling sped down Highway 8 toward McMinnville before turning left onto Shellsford Road. He eventually made his way onto Bridge Street, crossed South Chancery without stopping at Depot Bottom, then turned right onto South High Street.
Whiles says the suspect ignored a red light at the intersection with Main Street before turning left onto Morford Street and traveling over Westwood Bridge.
“He was going over 100 mph at times and passing cars on double-yellow lines on hills,” said Whiles.
The chase continued on Morrison Street all the way through Westwood then went in front of WCHS. It finally ended when Walling drove the wrong way onto the exit ramp and encountered oncoming traffic leaving Highway 55.
“He went up the ramp the wrong way and narrowly missed a collision,” said Whiles. “In doing so, he got into the grass and slid down an embankment. He bailed out and tried to get away on foot, but deputy Jared Jacobs was able to get him to the ground.”
Whiles says he thinks Walling ran through the roadblock because of his level of intoxication and because he had two warrants for his arrest. He had a male and female passenger with him in the pickup at the time of the chase. They were not charged.