JEFFERSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — A Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office deputy is back on the job after taking a few days to recover from minor injuries sustained during a pursuit on Saturday.
Patrol Sgt. Eddie Freeman assisted in the pursuit of a suspected stolen white Dodge Ram.
“I ingested smoke, they just wanted to check me out, make sure everything was okay, my oxygen levels were low on scene. Protocol is to go ahead and make sure everything’s good. I did take off the next day and the following two days, and today’s my first day back since that happened,” Freeman said.
Two people were arrested after the chase ended in flames. The pursuit began in Jefferson County after White Pine Police Department got reports of the suspected stolen truck. The chase ended in Sevier County after the truck caught fire.
The two people arrested were the driver of the truck 29-year-old Zachary T. Arnold, and the passenger 30-year-old Courtlyn S. Collier.
Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office assisted White Pine Police Department in the pursuit. Freeman said Arnold rammed into the back of his patrol car after attempting to slow Arnold’s speed.
“I radioed everybody and said we would try to perform a box-in maneuver, where we put a vehicle in front and back and beside and then gradually slow him down and get him stopped,” Freeman said.
Between the police maneuver and the fire, Arnold’s vehicle came to a stop. Freeman pulled both Arnold and Collier out of the Dodge Ram. He then noticed his own vehicle was on fire.
“I got in it and moved it away and off from that vehicle, and actually ended up getting the fire put out in mine with my fire extinguisher,” Freeman said.
Freeman was treated at JMHER for minor injuries and smoke inhalation. White Pine Police Chief Chad Cotter was also involved in the chase and said there are criteria for when and when not to chase, including weather, time of day and traffic.
“We don’t like to pursue, a lot of people feel like it’s definitely not necessary, there’s some times that it is depending on what kind of call it is. We’re not going to chase for a simple misdemeanor, theft, something like that,” Cotter said.
Cotter said they decided to pursue this suspect after Collier called 911.
“He also had a female with him that had made contact with 911, stating that he would not stop, would not let her out,” he said. “We also got him charged with kidnapping for that, so there’s multiple things that played a role in us continuing to chase.”
JCSO said Arnold is facing multiple charges including evading, reckless endangerment and vandalism.
Freeman said incidents like this can be stressful, so he always makes sure to take a moment to reflect on how he handled a situation.
“I take thirty minutes and decompress and in my mind go through everything and pick apart everything that happened, to make sure that I did everything that I could do right, and where could I improve if I didn’t,” Freeman said.