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Run from law proves fatal
Fatal bypass crash.jpg
Pictured is the Nissan Altima driven by Morrison resident Tara Lynn Thomas after it flipped on the bypass Saturday afternoon.
Tara Thomas Campbell.jpg
Tara Thomas Campbell

Funeral service has been scheduled for Friday for a 39-year-old Morrison woman who was killed when her car flipped on the bypass near Three Star Mall and she was ejected.

Tara Lynn Thomas lost her life in the single-car crash on Saturday.

According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the incident began Saturday afternoon around 12 p.m. when Thomas' car was reportedly spotted by McMinnville Police running the red light at the intersection of the bypass and Smithville Highway. Blue lights were activated to perform a routine traffic stop, but Thomas reportedly sped away on the bypass in her Nissan Altima.

“She almost T-boned another vehicle at that intersection so there was an attempt to stop her,” said state trooper Ben Cannon.

Thomas continued on the bypass driving in the direction of the mall with an officer in pursuit. Another McMinnville Police officer was in the vicinity and was also following Thomas as she passed the jail and made the decision to begin driving on the grassy median.

“Officers were attempting to stop her at the time of the crash,” said Cannon in clarifying a statement he made early in the investigation. “It wasn’t a high-speed pursuit, but they were in pursuit for a short distance. She intentionally steered her car into the grassy median. I don’t know what her thought process was for doing that. She traveled quite a ways driving in the grassy median until she hit a concrete culvert. When she hit the culvert her car began to rotate.”

As the Thomas car flipped, she was ejected and suffered fatal injuries. She was not wearing a seatbelt.

When emergency responders arrived, they scanned the scene to look for other potential occupants and noticed a child seat in the car.

“The firefighters raised up the car to make sure there wasn’t a child trapped underneath and did a thorough check of the tree line and field,” said Cannon. “Thankfully, we didn’t find anyone else and we really don’t know why she had the car seat. She has a child that’s around 10.”

As for reasons why Thomas might opt to run from law enforcement, Cannon said it’s all speculation at this point but she was driving on a suspended license. 

The Highway Patrol’s Critical Incident Response Team, or CIRT, was investigating the crash scene on Monday, taking measurements and using a drone to get aerial photographs. As a matter of procedure, Thomas' blood was drawn at the scene and her body sent for autopsy.