An “Angel” guards our local roads

Published 9:31 am Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Up until a month or so ago, a vehicle chase here in the Roanoke-Chowan area was just about as rare as a Republican candidate in a local election (except for Gates County, an area fast becoming a stronghold for the Grand Old Party). At best, we’d hear about maybe two per year (a chase, not a Republican candidate). We’ve had two since November.

What on Earth are these people thinking about? Not unless their vehicles are equipped with Stealth capacity and become invisible, they have as much of a chance at outrunning the police as I have in winning a muscle man contest. Even if they succeed in their mission to travel faster than the blue lights behind them, they still have to deal with the old saying – “you can run, but you can’t hide.”

By the time the chase initiates, law enforcement will have the make, model and license plate number of the vehicle in question. They’ll wind-up knowing more about the driver than the driver will know about him or herself.

But yet the chasee still thinks that by depressing the right-side pedal until his or her toes touch the radiator, they will elude capture. Apparently, they’ve never heard of the “long arm of the law.” Simple communications between the chase vehicles will eventually lead to a victory over injustice.

However, there are other players in this chase scenario – ordinary citizens innocently on their way to the grocery store, the doctor’s office, church or en route to grandma’s house for a big plate of fried chicken and mashed ‘taters. In other words, motorists obeying the rules of the road while acting out their daily lives may wind-up being the victims of some idiot behind the wheel.

Last Thursday’s chase involving an Ahoskie man behind the wheel of a high-powered sports car (Jaguar) could have ended with loss of innocent lives had it not been for the quick thinking of local Highway Patrol Trooper Angel Genao.

Upon attempting to stop a driver later identified as Joe Ernest Vaughan whose “Jag” was clocked at 68 mph in a 55 zone on US 13 in Gates County, Genao soon found himself involved in a chase as Mr. Vaughan made the decision not to pull over for a blue light and siren.

Instead, he sped south on 13, turning off on US 158 West after crossing the Winton bridge. At that point, after crossing the median and headed back towards Winton, Vaughan decided it would be cool to play chicken with oncoming traffic as he performed an 180-degree turn and headed back west on 158. The bad news was he was in the eastbound lane of travel, meaning he was meeting traffic head on. What’s even worse is he opted to dramatically increase the speed of his car….reaching 139 mph.

In an effort to slow Vaughan’s car down, Trooper Genao disengaged from the chase, slowing his car and cutting off his blue lights and siren, but continued to travel westbound (in the proper lane).

A minute or so later, Genao was able to catch up to Vaughan, and twice used the PIT maneuver (where his front bumper made contact with the rear wheels of the Jag and then turned sharply into “chasee” which forced Vaughan’s car to spin out and come to a stop).

Thank goodness this chase didn’t end with the loss of innocent life due to someone thinking it was cool to attempt to outrun the law.

Thank goodness for the quick thinking of Angel Genao.


Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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