Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX


April 4, 2013

Louisiana driver in custody after leading Rusk authorities on extended Highway 69 chase

RUSK —  A Louisiana woman remained under medical care and in police custody Thursday after leading authorities on a 35-mile morning chase along both directions of Highway 69 — at speeds higher than 100 mph.

A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper ultimately was forced to spike the tire of the small passenger Hyundai the woman was driving, bringing her to a stop after she crashed into and uprooted a Rusk street sign.

The driver, Jennifer Cross of Gray, La., age unavailable, was immediately taken to ETMC-Jacksonville by ground ambulance, suffering what was believed to be minimal injuries, authorities said.

Cross, who was by herself in the vehicle, was believed to have been high on narcotics at the time of the 9:30 a.m. chase, Rusk Police Chief Jamie Campbell said.

The chief said the woman's erratic driving placed everyone around her in danger.

“She nearly drove over a pedestrian as she sped through town,” Campbell explained. “One of my officers was out on routine patrol when she was spotted driving recklessly.”  

The chase began in Rusk when the officer turned on the police lights, and continued all the way five miles south of Alto, the chief said.

Then, the driver abruptly turned her vehicle around and headed back to Rusk the way she came.

“The DPS was able to spike one of her tires when the car was on its way back to the south limits of Rusk,” Campbell said. “She went ahead  about two or three miles, got a half mile north of the city limits and wrecked. … She struck a sign post and was kind of knocked out of commission."

The driver was traveling at a lower speed when she hit the sign, authorities said.

While dramatic, the wreck was not believed to be too severe. On the “1” to “7” scale it was classified as as a “2,” the chief said.

The chase, which also involved some Rusk officers and Cherokee County Sheriff's deputies, attracted attention on social media, prompting some Facebook friends to post updates as they listened to its  progress through a police scanner.

“Stay off the road between Alto and Rusk,” cautioned one Facebook poster. “Car running from the cops at speeds of 112.”

The Facebook observer noted at one point that the Hyundai was spotted heading through the four-way stop in Rusk.

“Dang, (s)he's flying,” the poster observed. “Fixing to be passing my road.”

Campbell said no immediate injuries were spotted on Cross after her collision with the sign, but the driver indicated she was in pain.

Campbell said he didn't believe his department has had any run-ins with Cross before — “She didn't ring a bell with us,”—  but a Texas DPS traffic ticket issued to her in Cherokee County about a month ago was spotted in her vehicle at the scene of the crash.

Once Cross is released from medical care, she is expected to immediately be taken into custody and admitted to the Cherokee County Jail.

The chief anticipated the driver will formally be arrested on suspicion of fleeing from a police officer, a state jail felony, as well as possession of dangerous drugs and Driving While Intoxicated. The punishment ranges of the last two offenses were not immediately available Thursday.

Cross probably won't be taken before a judge until the morning, Campbell added.


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