SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Tennessee Highway Patrol is investigating a car chase after an alleged shoplifting incident Thursday night.
Joseph Lewis Jr., 30, of Bybee, Tennessee, is being charged with multiple offenses following the incident that began at a Walmart on Dolly Parton Parkway, according to the Sevierville Police Department.
SPD officers responded just after 5:40 p.m. to the Walmart, pulling behind a vehicle Lewis was seen getting into. Lewis then drove backward trying to get away from officers.
Witnesses told officers the suspect struck several vehicles and almost ran over several pedestrians, including a child, as he fled the store.
“As Mr. Lewis continued to drive backwards, he struck several private vehicles before coming to a brief halt whereupon an adult female passenger jumped out of his car,” SPD spokesman Bob Stahlke said. “Mr. Lewis accelerated forward and truck an SPD patrol vehicle and sped away.”
Officers pursued the suspect onto the Parkway northbound. Lewis continued to drive recklessly, striking a vehicle near Park Road. Officers tried to stop Lewis’ vehicle on Park Road, resulting in a crash.
Lewis continued to flee. He then turned east on Dolly Parton Parkway where he crashed into a pickup truck and SUV near the intersection with Henderson Avenue.
Three people were hurt in the chase. An officer in the crash on Park Road was taken to LeConte Medical Center for evaluation and has been released. A person in the SUV hit on Dolly Parton Parkway was also taken to LeConte for minor injuries.
Lewis was airlifted to UT Medical Center with injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening.
The chase resulted in five different crashes. The Tennessee Highway Patrol is investigating. Dolly Parton Parkway was reopened by 9 p.m. Thursday.
Multiple felony charges are pending, including aggravated kidnapping, eight counts of aggravated assault, two counts of reckless endangerment, three counts of leaving the scene of an accident, driving on a revoked license, no insurance, illegal registration, shoplifting and multiple traffic offenses.