High speed chase ends dramatically in Okemah
If Angie Whisnant and Chad Underwood had known they were going to be center stage in a real-life summer blockbuster, they might have had their popcorn ready. Instead, the two received an unexpected adrenaline rush during their daily walk as they witnessed the spectacular ending of a high-speed police pursuit around 1:30 pm last Monday.
The ordeal began on Wood Drive, in front of Taco Bell in Okmulgee as Okmulgee County Sheriff Eddy Rice witnessed a black Chrysler 300 make a sharp U-turn, nearly resulting in a full donut. Sheriff Rice attempted to pull over the vehicle, but the Chrysler sped away instead.
As the pursuit barreled down Highway 75 towards Henryetta, Sheriff Rice called for backup and was joined by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, as well as Dewar and Henryetta Police Departments. The Chrysler evaded police roadblocks as it led police through Henryetta before heading west on I-40 where speeds in excess of 120 mph were reached.
The Chrysler then exited I-40 at the Pharoah exit before continuing west on Highway 62 with Okfuskee County Sheriff’s deputies joining the pursuit. Okfuskee County Sheriff’s officers successfully executed a spike deployment, blowing out the left front tire of the Chrysler, but the vehicle continued down Highway 62 before turning left into the industrial park on N 3780 Road, ironically driving right past the Okfuskee County Jail.
The chase continued onto Sertco Road where Angie Whisnant and Chad Underwood happened to be walking, sans popcorn. “We started running the opposite direction but then I saw the drivers hand waving out the window and I thought he might have a gun, so we hit the ground,” said Whisnant.
Instead of making a turn at Glen Johnson Loop or John Fullbright Loop, the Chrysler continued straight ahead on Wayne Manley Drive, which is a dead end. The Chrysler struck the curb and drove through the grass before plowing into the fence that separates the industrial park from I-40. “It sounded like a bomb went off when he hit that curb,” Whisnant said of the unbelievable scene.
After driving through the fence, the Chrysler became disabled and the driver jumped out of the vehicle, fleeing on foot towards I-40. Officers quickly ran down the man who would later be identified as Nathan Tilley, of Okemah.
Although the incident was ultimately turned over to Lighthorse Police, as Tilley is Native American, Okmulgee County Sheriff Eddy Rice voiced concerns over a misconception of how the McGirt ruling affects traffic stops and reiterated that law enforcement has the authority to pull over any vehicle found to be violating the law. “Even though the car may have a native tag, we don’t know who is driving that car.”