Chase lands Va. man in jail

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 21, 2003

News Editor


– After leading numerous Virginia and North Carolina law enforcement agencies on a chase across state lines, a Portsmouth man is behind bars and facing multiple charges in both states.

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Dennis Meeks, 32, was arrested by the Portsmouth Police Department after running his car in a ditch on the heels of the chase.

The chase originated shortly past 9 p.m. in Portsmouth where Meeks was reportedly driving erratically, police said. He was operating the cab portion of a tractor-trailer rig when Portsmouth officers attempted to stop him.

He fled to elude possible arrest.

From Portsmouth, Meeks led authorities on a chase that went down routes 58 and 258 in Suffolk and into the Murfreesboro, N.C. Authorities reported that Meeks, traveling at speeds upwards of 80 mph, went through that town, up U.S. Route 158 and began heading north on U.S. 13 toward Suffolk.

Portsmouth authorities were assisted by police from Suffolk, Chesapeake, Southampton County, the Hertford and Gates county sheriffs’ departments, the Murfreesboro, N.C., Police Department and the North Carolina Highway Patrol.

Police in Murfreesboro were critical to slowing Meeks down.

&uot;It was just a few seconds after we received a ‘be on the lookout’ call from the Suffolk Police Department that one of our officers, Joe Burgess, spotted the vehicle in question at the intersection of (US) 158/258,&uot; said Murfreesboro Police Chief Darryl Rowe.

Rowe confirmed that once Meeks failed to heed Burgess’ blue light and siren, further assistance was summoned. Officer Daniel Vaughan and Lt. Chris Sumner responded and joined the chase as Meeks traveled on US 158 east towards Winton at speeds reaching 80 mph.

&uot;At some point, Lt. Sumner was able to pass and get ahead of Meeks,&uot; said Rowe. &uot;He deployed his stop sticks (a device used by law enforcement to disable a vehicle by puncturing its tires) at the intersection of 158 and (US) 13 near Winton. The suspect’s vehicle ran over the sticks, puncturing at least one tire, but the suspect still would not stop.&uot;

At this point, the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office and the NC Highway Patrol had joined the chase, one now traveling north on US 13 into Gates County.

Another attempt to slow Meeks was made in Gates County, where a Highway Patrol trooper deployed stop sticks. Meeks managed to avoid them.

&uot;He had slowed to about 60 mph by then, but he still showed no signs of stopping,&uot; noted Rowe.

One final attempt was made to stop Meeks before he re-entered Virginia. According to Rowe, as the chase neared the state line on US 13, Officer Vaughan made a pass and deployed his stop sticks. They found their mark, but Meeks still failed to stop. However, the North Carolina law enforcement officials were forced to stop and discontinue the chase as Meeks crossed into Virginia.

&uot;I had alerted Suffolk (police department) and advised them that he was headed their way,&uot; said Rowe. &uot;They picked-up the chase once he crossed the line.&uot;

Ironically, Meeks was headed back home as he led Suffolk Police officers on a chase that ended when he crashed on Wyatt Avenue in Portsmouth at approximately 11:30 p.m.

&uot;I was told he had nothing left on one side of his truck but the rims,&uot; said Rowe. &uot;The stop sticks worked, but he was still determined not to stop, so much to the point that he rode on the rims.&uot;

Efforts to reach authorities in Portsmouth and Suffolk were unsuccessful.

Bryant is a staff writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald.