High-speed getaway fails

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 20, 2006

AHOSKIE – An Aulander man is behind bars after his failed attempt to outrun local law enforcement officers here Monday night.

Hugh Jeffery Bell, 43, was arrested after the 1992 Mitsubishi Eclipse he was operating crashed into a bush in the yard of an Ahoskie residence. At one point, Bell’s vehicle was clocked at 110 mph as he attempted to elude Ahoskie Police officers and a North Carolina Highway Patrol trooper.

In addition, Bell allegedly attempted to strike two law enforcement officers with his vehicle. Officers also witnessed Bell’s vehicle swerving in an apparent attempt to strike other vehicles as well as pedestrians.

After the chase ended on South Maple Street, Bell was taken into custody and charged with two felonies n fleeing to elude arrest and aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer. He was also charged with driving while license were revoked, speeding 110 mph in a 35 zone and simple possession of marijuana.

Bell was placed in the Hertford County Jail under an $112,500 secured bond. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Aug. 1.

“The officers did an outstanding job in bringing this to an end without further incident to the public, to the suspect and his passengers and to the officers themselves,” Ahoskie Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh said. “The officers put the safety of the motoring public at the top of their lists. They were able to keep a safe distance behind the suspect vehicle, keeping him in sight.”

The incident began shortly past 11 p.m. where Ahoskie Police Sgt. Ty Metzler and Officer Steve White were conducting a traffic safety checkpoint on Memorial Drive (US 13) on the southern edge of town.

According to Chief Fitzhugh, a vehicle was approaching the checkpoint in the northbound lane, but instead turned into the parking lot of Higher Ground Church. Officer White went to investigate, at which time the vehicle left the lot and continued north towards the checking station.

“Sgt. Metzler was standing in the center turn lane, attempting to flag down the vehicle at which time the vehicle increased its speed and veered towards Sgt. Metzler, barely missing him,” Fitzhugh said.

At that time, Officer White activated the blue light and siren on his APD vehicle and followed the suspect’s vehicle, which in turn increased its speed dramatically and began to run through the red stoplights on Memorial Drive, nearly causing several accidents.

Attempting to elude arrest by using a series of twists and turns onto several Ahoskie roadways, Bell steered his vehicle onto Lloyd, Sunset, Rhue, South, Church, Catherine, Hayes and Maple streets.

At one point, Bell switched off the headlights of the vehicle. At another point, Fitzhugh said Bell was apparently attempting to hit oncoming traffic head-on, including Highway Patrol Trooper Steve Mize, as well as swerve towards areas where pedestrians were standing.

“It was a good thing the incident ended where it did before Mr. Bell could have possibly injured someone,” Fitzhugh said.

Two passengers were pulled from the vehicle after it crashed into the bush. Fitzhugh said both appeared shaken-up, but uninjured.