KINGSTON, Tenn. (WVLT) Kingston Police were led on a high speed motorcycle chase with a 19 year old who didn't have a motorcycle license.
Kingston Assistant Police Chief, Gary Nelson was the officer who responded to the high speed enthusiast. Nelson said he originally clocked 19 year old Leonard Merrell doing 53 in a 30 mile an hour zone. After that, both were pushing speeds between 80 and 100 miles per hour.
Nelson captured the entire chase on his dash cam video. It shows Merrell look over his shoulder when Nelson flipped on his lights to pull him over, then take off. Shortly after the pursuit began, Merrell approached a construction zone on North Kentucky Road. Merrell swerved off the road, up on the sidewalk, narrowly escaping hitting a construction worker.
Nelson said he feared for the rider's life, and the lives of anyone else driving on the road that day.
"You try not to get tunnel vision and try to watch everything to keep for everyone's safety. But I'm always praying, Lord protect us, and He did," Nelson said.
But the story gets even stranger a few seconds later. Merrell, in his eagerness to flee, took a curve too quickly. The video shows him hit the median, launching his bike several feet into the air, and Merrell's feet fly up from underneath him. Then the seat of the bike bounces off, and Merrell is somehow able to land the motorcycle and continue on his way.
The chase then continued outside the city limits.
"But we're continuing the pursuit because a felony was committed when he almost hit the construction worker," Nelson explained.
The chase lasted nearly 15 minutes of Merrell weaving and swerving around cars and trucks before finally coming to an end. Fortunately while all this was happening, a fire department crew had the road blocked off due to a fallen tree. The crew helped stop Merrell and get him turned around before he wiped out on someone's front yard.
A bystander and firefighter helped tackle Merrell when he tried to run away, Nelson said.
When asked about a possible motive, Nelson replied, "I asked him when it was over. He didn't have a motorcycle license and he was on probation. He just didn't want to get caught."
Merrell was booked in the Roane County jail and faces 11 charges, including three felonies of evading arrest and reckless endangerment. He also faces a $12,000 bond.