Police Chase Ends In Terrible Accident at Ponce/Commerce

In the midst of a dog walk last night, we saw the aftermath of this accident at the eastern intersection of Ponce and Commerce.

A crushed car on the sidewalk.  Decatur and DeKalb police and fire on the scene.  Police tape across the intersection and smoke rising from the center of the action.  I’m now kicking myself for not taking a blurry pic with my cameraphone.

Though I couldn’t get much info from anyone at the scene, the rumor mill is full of info this morning.  Robbie tweets in response to Andisheh that the crash is the result of a police chase and that one suspect fled on foot.

Lynne writes in with a report from an eyewitness that reasserts that the driver fled.

A work colleague saw a terrible car wreck early evening on Thursday at the corner of Commerce and E. Ponce (near Decatur First Methodist Church). A black SUV sped through a red light heading west on Ponce, and crashed into the line of waiting cars going east. One woman had to be cut out of her car. The driver of the vehicle that ran the light got out of his car and ran away on foot. Anyone know anything more?

I’m trying to get confirmation from Decatur PD on all of this.  Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Police Chief Booker provided details in the comments section.

26 thoughts on “Police Chase Ends In Terrible Accident at Ponce/Commerce”

  1. I accidentally posted a comment last night about this on the Decatur Minute (I meant to comment on DMetro *blush*) but my husband (who was walking with our kid in her stroller) witnessed this as well. It sounds just awful and I hope everyone is OK.

    1. Oh, he says it was a “tan sedan” going the wrong way, the black SUV was going the right way. And there was a “blue car with a handicap sticker” going the wrong way as well. He saw the actual impact and agrees the black SUV was going fast, but the police came from the direction of the tan car.

      1. not true..dekalb county cop led a high speed chase needlessly west on e. ponce right into our small town almost killing two people..ridiculous

        1. Perhaps my husband was mistaken – first-person accounts of an accident can sometimes be a bit muddled and he was shaken up by what he had seen. I was just repeating what he told me, and I apologize if his view was incorrect.

      2. Susan is right. The officer was behind the SUV. At first we were wondering why she was going so slow and didn’t have her lights on. I realized afterwards it’s because he was heading into downtown Decatur. She was backing off of him. He was already out of control though. It makes sense what she (the officer) did in hindsight.

  2. I was driving east on College from McKoy Park last night and saw a ton of police cars heading to that spot. Once I got home, I heard the helicopter hovering around Decatur Terrace. I hope that everyone is OK!

  3. Last night, August 6, 2009, at approximately 8:15pm. Decatur officers responded to the intersection of E. Ponce de Leon Avenue and Commerce Drive in reference to motor vehicle accident. Preliminary investigations are as follows: A Dekalb County police officer was attempting to conduct a traffic stop on a Lincoln Navigator at the intersection on E.Ponce de Leon Avenue and N. Arcadia Avenue. The Navigator failed to yield and the officer discontinued attempts to conduct the traffic stop. As the Navigator approached the intersection of EPDL and Commerce Drive, the driver failed to stop at the traffic light and struck a Toyota Camry. After striking the Camry the Navigator struck a Jeep Cherokee and finally came to rest. The driver of the Navigator fled on foot and was not apprehended. The driver of the Camry and her passenger both received injuries and were transported to the hospital. The occupants of the Jeep were not injured. Decatur accident investigators are currently working this case.

      1. The officer may very well have called off the chase but may have continued to follow at reasonable speed without lights. Or, as is common in such cases, the perp may have continued at high speed anyway, chase or not. He obviously didn’t want to be apprehended. Let’s wait on the official report.

    1. Chief Booker, I really appreciate your willingness to fill us in on public safety goings-on here on this blog. Thank you!

    2. Chief Booker, Thank you for this preliminary report.

      I understand you must be careful in your wording and that the investigation is ongoing.
      However, the report implies that the attempted stop was terminated almost immediately at Arcadia when witnesses report the “chase” continuing at high speed practically into the Commerce intersection one mile away.

      That one mile passes a busy train/bus terminal, a blind crest in the road, Glendale school that had a crowded open house two hours earlier, a church and dozens of strollers and joggers at that time of night.

      I’m very concerned that police actions or policies may have contributed to the desperation of the suspect in a dangerous escape and that a police officer may have continued a high speed pursuit through this densely populated residential corridor.

      Please keep us informed of the ongoing investigation.

  4. I was riding my bike last night near Avondale and must have seen or heard 10 police cars – Decatur, Dekalb, Sheriffs – two firetrucks and three ambulances heading in the direction of downtown Decatur. Glad to hear that the occupants of the vehicle will be OK. But I must ask, how was the driver of the vehicle not apprehended with such a response?

    1. Although the driver may not have been apprehended (as in chased on foot from the scene), the police were certainly going to great efforts to find him. I’d estimate at least 10 police units around the Sycamore, Scott Park, North Candler, Pate, Barry Street area around 8:30, with officers checking in backyards, etc. I also heard dogs, but that may have been local dogs disturbed by the commotion, as opposed to police tracker dogs.

  5. Philip, I have the same question. It’s unfortunate that he was able to get away and I’m hoping that the investigation will lead police to an arrest to get this person, who has no regard for human life, off the streets.

  6. I was on EP when it happened. We had just gone through the commerce intersection, when the black suv came flying up in between on the traffic on the 2 lane road. He almost side swiped all of us, but then crashed into all the cars behind us at the intersection. We saw a guy laying on the street convulsing and other people were crying. It was so scary. I had the kids in the car with me, too. I just pray everyone is okay.

  7. Two issues regarding apprehension: Normally, the first priority of police is to ensure the safety of the victims and make sure no one else is injured (secure the crime scene and protect others). Second it is easy to “escape” when there is confusion. The DeKalb Police have the vehicle identification from the attempted traffic stop. The suspect will be apprehended I am sure.

    1. He was a black male, no shirt, black basketball shorts and lots of tattoos on his arms and torso. I did not see him personally but that is the description I got from a couple of people that did.

      He tried to steal our neighbor’s car but our neighbor saw him and yelled at him. He then bolted through our back yard, across our deck. My dad saw him from our kitchen. He could not see where he went after he got around the corner to our side yard. This is two blocks from the accident. There are lots of places to hide and it was getting dark.

      My guess is he stole the black SUV.

  8. Weird – we saw the police cordon and what looked like a really bad crash. We were concerned that this had been a fatal crash. We drover round the church to get home. The next day we saw all the filming crews and supposed that in the dark we had mistaken a movie set for a bad crash. Sorry to hear that is was a real crash with serious injuries. I hope that the injuries are not too serious and the full recoveries will be made.

  9. I was an eye witness to the crash and immediate chase. Immediately (within 10 seconds) following the crash the DK officer (black female) was on the scene. The young black male driving the Navigator got out of the passenger side of the SUV and ran south towards the Commerce Drive/Barry Street area. We (group of bicyclist coming back from an Avondale ride) helped pursue the feeling suspect with the Dekalb officer and helped with direction of travel and locations, until Decatur/Dekalb units arrived on the scene. After witnessing the whole situation I do still wonder why the officer chose the priority to give foot chase to the feeling suspect over the immediate accident scene. I understand apprehending the suspect is important, but the innocent lives in the cars just hit seem equally important. How does a trained LEO make a judgement call in such a situation. Help or pursue? By the way the young fleeing suspect had a huge advantage in speed and agility over the uniformed and equipment laden officer. This was obvious in the first seconds of the foot chase.

  10. Holy smokes! I go to Jamaica for a week, and all holy hades pops loose around here! This is awful– I’ve always thought high speed chases should be reserved for those times when the police know, or have reason to believe, that the person(s) being chased are truly dangerous or have done something dangerous. Chases for theft & drug offenses (as well as non-compliant traffic stops) just don’t seem worth the risks incurred. Don’t get me wrong– I am definitely not busting on the police, b/c it’s clear that they’re often caught between a rock & a hard place when it comes to these, but I’m just sayin’. *sigh* Well, still & all,it’s good to be home.

  11. Carjackers and carthieves listen up. You don’t have to worry about the cops cause they won’t chase you. So drive em like you stole ’em no problem mon!

  12. I was at this intersection this morning on my home from Java Monkey. Looking at the accident debris and painted lines in the road, I realized that my car could have been one of those hit on E. Ponce…or my pregnant wife’s car. How did this low-life thug escape the scene? Bikes chasing him…thug running through peoples backyards. This sh*thead could have some involvement in a number of unsolved cases from here to downtown.

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