Suspected drug deal sparked chase; accident happened too fast for police to break off pursuit
BY VAN JENSEN ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTERunning into the sweltering morning heat, the woman, who asked not to be identified, saw the southwest corner of her home shattered with bricks scattered on her lawn. A few of the red bricks had even been launched across the street, dozens of yards away.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The woman who lives at 2911 Cross St. in Little Rock was baking blueberry muffins in the kitchen of her one-story, brick-sided home about 10 a.m. Wednesday when the world trembled.
Resting on its side, crumpled nearly beyond recognition, was a white Jeep. As its driver, Tyrone Harris, 26, of 3019 Center St. tried to pull himself free of the wreckage, police cruisers and other rescue vehicles began to descend on the scene.
According to Little Rock police spokesman Lt. Terry Hastings, the Jeep was being chased by police when it slammed into the home.
Accident reconstruction officers said the Jeep had been traveling south on Cross Street at “excess speed” when it went out of control around a slight curve and jumped a curb on the east side of the street.
The pursuit began just minutes earlier at 19th and Wolfe streets, where police on patrol observed a drug deal taking place, Hastings said.
They began pursuit of the Jeep and learned that it had been reported stolen in Maumelle last month.
Hastings said the other people involved in the suspected drug deal were on foot and weren’t caught.
A half hour after the accident, as 40 or more neighborhood residents milled outside the cordoned area, several firefighters worked to free Harris from the damaged Jeep.
The vehicle had been twisted and smashed around him, sealing him inside. Hydraulic tools were used to pry it apart. Hastings said the driver was injured severely and his legs had been hurt.
An accident report listed Harris’ injuries as “incapacitating” but not life-threatening.
As rescuers pulled Harris from the Jeep, placed him on a gurney and loaded him into an ambulance he said nothing, though his eyes were open.
“Tyrone, we’re going to meet you at the hospital,” shouted a man claiming to be a relative of the driver.
Others at the scene voiced concerns that police continued their pursuit of the Jeep at high speeds through the neighborhood. No one was injured aside from Harris.
Hastings said the accident happened too fast for police to break off pursuit and the speed wasn’t dangerous. The initial accident report didn’t list the speed of the vehicles, but police investigate the circumstances around each crash involving a pursuit.
Staring at her damaged home, the woman who lives there talked to relatives and tried to laugh. She thought of the blueberry muffins, still sitting inside.
“I’d like to go in and get me one,” she said. “I haven’t had breakfast.”
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/STEPHEN B. THORNTON Little Rock firefighters use hydraulic equipment to pry away crumpled metal to free Tyrone Harris (lower left) from his overturned vehicle after he struck a house on Cross Street on Wednesday morning.
Copyright 2007 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Fleeing Jeep slams into Ark. house