CASH, Ark. – A strange set of circumstances were involved in a traffic pursuit Saturday that began in Craighead County and ended in Lawrence County.
Joseph A. Wolford, 41, of Hoxie, was arrested as the suspect in the crazy incident. The Craighead County Sheriff’s Office report said the incident began in Cash where Craighead County Constable Dan Walker began a traffic stop of a 2008 Mercury Marquis driven by Wolford. At 4:09 a.m. Saturday morning, July 29, the constable reported pursuing a vehicle driving very recklessly in the area north of Cash on Highway 18. The driver was reported to be all over the roadway – but only driving at 30 miles per hour.
Craighead County Deputy Dustin Norwood responded to assist the constable.
“I attempted to get in front of the pursuit via Arkansas 230 West out of Bono, but as I approached Highway 230 from US 63, Walker advised the speeds of the fleeing driver had increased drastically, to approximately 85MPH. Walker had advised by this time that the vehicle had traveled through Egypt, and was continuing Northbound on Arkansas 91,” Norwood reported. “I knew there was no way I could get down HWY 230 in time to attempt to spike the fleeing vehicle.”
He radioed to Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department and advised of the pursuit coming into their jurisdiction but it seemed like the deputies would have trouble getting into place in time.
Norwood shut down northbound traffic on U.S. 63, he reported, at the intersection of Highway 91.
As the suspect vehicle approached the intersection, spike strips were used unsuccessfully. The vehicle crossed U.S. 63, ran a red light and continued north on Highway 91 at about 90 MPH, the report said. A short distance later, the vehicle wrecked while failing to negotiate a curve. Lawrence County Road 620 and Highway 91 was the location of the wreck.
“Verbal commands were given for the driver to show his hands, and for him to step out of the vehicle, but he refused to comply,” Norwood said. “As another officer and I approached the driver door of the disabled vehicle, the subject was still trying to get the vehicle to drive out of the thicket it was in.”
Officers don’t wait for a suspect attempting to flee to come to reason, considering their lives could come to an end at the slightest wrong move, and as the report showed, the suspect was soon to become a test subject for several non-lethal methods of control.
“Wolford was given multiple orders to exit the vehicle, but refused to do so,” Norwood reported. “Based on not knowing what Wolford had in the vehicle with him, and his previous actions of failing to stop for a law enforcement vehicle, I made the decision to deploy Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) on Wolford. After the OC delivery, Wolford would still not comply with orders. By this time a Lawrence County Officer had made it to the vehicle, and due to Wolford not following orders, the officer deployed a taser on Wolford. This had little effect on the subject. After other orders went ignored, I deployed a taser on Wolford. The darts from my taser struck Wolford in the right chest and abdomen. This too had little effect on Wolford. Eventually, two other officers and I pulled him from the vehicle, taking him into custody.”
Norwood said it was “obvious he was severely intoxicated,” with slurred speech, bloodshot watery eyes and the odor of alcohol perforating from his body. The man could barely stand on his own, the report said. He was rinsed with water as Medic One tended to him before he was cleared to be taken to jail.
Once at the jail, Wolford was offered a breath test. He stuck his tongue into the mouthpiece each time, causing an insufficient sample, the report said.
Wolford was arrested by Constable Walker for: Felony Fleeing in a Vehicle, Reckless Driving, Refusal to Submit to Arrest, DWI #2, Refusal to Submit to a Chemical Test, and Driving on a Revoked Driver’s License. He may also face charges in Lawrence County.
Featured photo from CCSO; story LCSD photo by Stan Morris | NEA Report