Multi-county chase ends in arrest
Jefferson County K9 Deputy Timothy Tewell and Newport Sgt. Amy Gentry escort Nicole Schmidt to a patrol car.
A Knox County woman was taken into custody following a pursuit of more than 10 miles involving Jefferson, Cocke and Newport officers.
The woman told officers she ran “because God told her she needed to save people,” officers said.
The pursuit began at 12:15 p.m. Saturday, when Jefferson County K9 Deputy Timothy Tewell received a call of a female throwing items from her 1998 Ford Explorer onto the interstate while eastbound on Interstate 40.
The officer said he got behind the woman in the construction area of the Douglas Lake bridge.
When Nicole Schmidt, 34, Deep Woods Lane, Knoxville, was told to pull over so the officer could talk to her, “she dropped it down in drive and took off at a high rate of speed, knocking over 20 or 25 barrels and throwing items from her vehicle as she went,” Tewell said.
Cocke County Deputy Lt. C.J. Ball said the woman was pursued at speeds up to 115 mph to the 432 exit of the interstate, where she continued eastbound on Highway 25/70.
At that point Cocke County and Newport officers ended the attempt to stop the speeding woman, who traveled at speeds in excess of 100 mph in a 40 mph speed zone and traveled in the westbound lane to pass slower motorists in the eastbound lanes.
Because of the dangerous situation, all of the officers curtailed the high-speed pursuit. Newport officers put out spike strips at the Broadway and Cosby Highway intersection in an effort to stop the speeding auto.
Schmidt however moved into the westbound lanes and then turned onto Main Street to avoid the strips.
She ran red lights and stop signs, heading north on North Street and then turned onto Rhea Street.
On the dead-end street, Schmidt turned around and was headed back to North Street, when the vehicle careened into a ditch and embankment on the right side and then crossed back over the roadway, coming to rest in a lawn. At that point, Schmidt fled on foot into a nearby wooded area where she was captured.
Authorities have not determined the subject’s mental status, however Tewell said she was throwing items including a radio, window cranks, headliner, armrest and sunvisor, onto the roadway during the chase.
Newport patrol officer Mike Robey charged Schmidt with fleeing to evade motor vehicle, failure to maintain lane, speeding, reckless endangerment, failure to stop for stop signs and red lights, and resisting stop, frisk and halt.
Ball charged her with felony fleeing to evade arrest, reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, improper passing, and violation of the seat belt, registration and insurance laws.
Her bond was set at $25,000.
-By Ray Snader, Tribune Correspondent