A Wilkes County man wrecked a Nissan Maxima while being pursued by Ashe County deputies and dove into the South Fork of the New River, but was taken into custody not far away, said Ashe Sheriff B. Phil Howell

The incident occurred Aug. 26 in southern Ashe, said Howell on Tuesday.

The sheriff said Michael Gene Perry Jr., of Millers Creek, driver of the Nissan, and Teaira Lynn Hawkins of North Wilkesboro, a passenger, were arrested. Both are 28.

Howell released the following narrative, starting with Ashe 911 Dispatch receiving a call about a suspicious white Nissan Maxima being seen in the Cox Road and Round Knob Church Road area of Glendale Springs about 3 p.m. Aug. 26.

Ashe deputies Curtis Elliott and Lee Johnson located the Nissan coming toward them on Cox Road. Elliott, driving a marked sheriff’s office pickup, stopped and was approaching the Nissan when it accelerated and hit the passenger side of Johnson’s marked patrol car.

The Nissan then turned onto a private road, with Elliott and Johnson in pursuit with emergency lights and sirens activated. The chase went about 1.5 miles on the private road and then a narrow four-wheeler trail along the South Fork of the New until the Nissan hit a tree and stopped.

Howell said the driver, later identified as Perry, exited the Nissan and fled on foot, dove into the river and began swimming to the other side.

He said the passenger, injured in the wreck, exited the Nissan and tried to flee on foot but was apprehended by Johnson and Elliott. She was later identified as Hawkins.

Johnson and Elliott gave other law enforcement units a description of the male suspect and his direction of travel. More Ashe deputies, Jefferson police officers and N.C. Highway Patrol troopers searched for Perry and he was caught in the area.

Ashe County Emergency Medical Services took Hawkins to Ashe Memorial Hospital in Jefferson. Perry was taken directly to the Ashe County Detention Center. Howell said Hawkins and Perry were both being sought by the N.C. Department of Public Safety for parole violations.

Perry was charged with felony parole violation, resisting a public officer, driving while license revoked and fleeing to elude arrest. Hawkins was charged with a parole violation, resisting a public officer and possession of drug paraphernalia.

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