Pursuit leads to property damage, fist fight and broken hand in Itawamba County

By Adam Armour/The Itawamba County Times

A brief vehicular chase through Fulton on Sunday resulted in one arrest, several damaged light poles, an extremely battered truck and a sheriff with a broken hand.

Deputies with the Itawamba County Sheriff’s Department, officers with the Fulton Police Department and patrolmen with the Mississippi Department of Highway Patrol arrested George Lawrence, 19, of Pontotoc and charged him with a total of 12 violations. They include:

• driving under the influence

• two counts of reckless driving

• resisting arrest

• possession of beer

• no proof of liability insurance

• seatbelt violation

• failure to yield to the right of way

• improper turn

• driving on the wrong side of the road

• no driver’s license

• disregard of traffic device

As of Monday, Lawrence was being held in the Itawamba County Jail and had yet to receive an initial court appearance.

Lawrence was arrested after a brief but eventful chase through Fulton and Itawamba County that ended in a physical confrontation near the Toyota Boshoku plant in Dorsey. The chase started around 6 p.m. Sunday evening when law enforcement agents were alerted to a driver in a Dodge one-ton truck cutting doughnuts in the parking lot of the weigh station on Highway 78 near Fulton. Before officers could respond, the driver drove into town and made his way to Hospital Road, where he hit a light pole and sped away.

Fulton police began the initial pursuit and were quickly joined by deputies with the sheriff’s department and Itawamba County Sheriff Chris Dickinson. During the chase, the suspect traveled down several roads in Fulton, including Sandlin Road and Mueller Brass Road, striking another pole and a tree along the way.

Eventually, the driver exited back onto Highway 78 heading west toward Tupelo. According to the sheriff, the driver attempted to run several other drivers off the road. But the front end of his truck had been so damaged by the previous collisions with light poles and trees that it was unable to increase its speed enough to drive people from the highway.

“His truck was in such bad shape that people were able to get out of the way easily,” Dickinson said, adding that the chase was a slow-moving one — around 50 miles per hour. “He wasn’t going fast enough.”

The driver turned off onto Fawn Grove Road and made his way to the Toyota Boshoku plant, whose street dead ends. The sheriff said the suspect then exited his vehicle.

When officers attempted to arrest him, the suspect turned to fisticuffs. There was a brief scrap, during which Dickinson broke his hand. In the end, though, the suspect was arrested.

Lawrence allegedly stole the truck from Pontotoc and was heading to West Virginia.

The sheriff said it was certainly an interesting way to spend a Sunday evening.

“I was just planning on getting a milkshake,” the sheriff said on Monday, laughing a bit. His arm was in a cast, which he said was, thankfully, the most serious injury garnered that day.

“In all seriousness, he was tearing up everything he came across,” the sheriff said. “I was afraid for people. If his steering wheel had been in better shape, he would have hit someone. I have no doubt about it.”

adam.armour@journalinc.com