Traffic violation leads officers to hot car

From Staff Reports

Oct. 29, 2008 - A Sulphur Springs man was arrested and a car reported stolen Fort Worth in 2007 was recovered after officers were called to a crash on State Highway 11 on Monday morning.

When officials were dispatched late Monday morning to a wreck on State Highway 11 east, they had no way of knowing they'd end up arresting one person and impounding a vehicle stolen in Fort Worth in 2007.

The whole thing started when a tool truck and Tahoe traveling along SH 11 east, just west of FM 2560, both indicated turns near the intersection. The tool truck got over to turn, the Tahoe went to go around to turn into a drive just ahead of it and got in the next lane. A Ford Ranger behind it struck it, not knowing the Tahoe's intent to change lanes, only to turn the opposite direction. The man in the pickup was taken by ambulance to the hospital for injuries.

State troopers, sheriff's deputies, Hopkins County and Brinker firemen and emergency medical personnel and vehicles were sent to the area of SH 11 east and FM 2560 after a Ford Ranger and Chevrolet Tahoe collided, sending the pickup driver to the hospital.

The emergency personnel were still at the scene when an Oldsmobile Cutlass with no license plate passed county firefighters at about 75 miles per hour, failing to the outside lane or slowing to 20 miles per hour when passing the stationary emergency vehicles, as required by law. The car narrowly missed the firemen and law enforcement personnel standing at the road's edge, according to Sgt. Tanner Crump.

The Cutlass was stopped by deputy Gary McLarry a short distance down the road, and a records check revealed the license of the driver, a 44-year-old Sulphur Springs man, had been suspended since 2001, when it wasn't renewed after he failed to pay fines on tickets. He was then taken into custody for driving while license invalid and failure to yield to an emergency vehicle.

But Northeast Texas Auto Task Force investigators and Fort Worth Police were contacted when a records check showed the vehicle as having been reported stolen to Fort Worth police in December of 2007.

After talking to the driver, they learned he was simply returning the car from a body shop to a Sulphur Springs car business. More investigation revealed the car had apparently been sold at auction a number of times over the last year, and the dealer had a title for it.

Neither the dealer nor the man who was driving the car were charged, and at this point neither is expected to face car theft allegations. Aany charges filed related to that case will be up to the auto task force investigators and Fort Worth authorities. At this point, however, it appears the car may have been sold, then reported missing to police, according to Crump.

The 44-year-old Sulphur Springs man still went to jail, however, for failure to yield to the emergency vehicle and on the expired license charge.

Officials said it's not uncommon for people to become fixated on their travels or vehicles ahead of them and fail to properly yield to the emergency vehicles. No emergency personnel were injured this time, but deputies remind motorists to be alert to emergency personnel and either change to the opposite lane in multiple lane roadways or at least slow down to 20 mph below the speed limit.

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