A driver who was pursued in motor vehicle chases but not caught twice last week was apprehended after a third pursuit Friday night.
Thomas Ray Bowlin, 37, of Congo Road, Millers Creek, was taken into custody in woods off Fall Creek Road near where it intersects with U.S. 421 at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountain escarpment in Purlear about 11:45 p.m. Friday.
Bowlin exited the Dodge Caravan he had been driving and fled into woods near Fall Creek after the left tires on the van were punctured by stop strips placed by the N.C. Highway Patrol on Fall Creek Road. Latasha Nichole Harless, 35, of North Wilkesboro, was still in the van and was taken into custody, said Capt. Craig Dancy, who heads the Wilkes Sheriff’s Office narcotics unit. She was charged with possession of methamphetamine and possession of pain pills.
Dancy said a Belgian Malinois search dog from the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, handled by Sgt. Dan Plane of the Watauga Sheriff’s Office, located Bowlin lying in brush and Wilkes Deputy Dalton Johnson took him into custody.
Dancy said Bowlin was charged with felony fleeing to elude arrest, resist obstruct and delay an officer, failure to heed blue light and siren and careless and reckless driving as a result of the chase Friday night.
He said Bowlin also was charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell and deliver as a result of meth found in the van. The female passenger in the van will also be charged in connection with meth, he added.
Dancy said Bowlin already was being sought for an outstanding warrant for possession of meth with intent to sell and deliver and in connection with brief chases the prior three nights.
He said deputies briefly pursued Bowlin in chases Wednesday and Thursday nights but terminated them due to weather and traffic conditions. One of those chases was in the Windy Ridge Road/N.C. 18 North area and the other in the Boone Trail area.
Dancy said the weather was clearer and traffic not as heavy when Deputy William Bishop spotted Bowlin in the Caravan near Food Lion in Millers Creek about 10:15 p.m. Friday.
The pursuit went north on N.C. 16 North, where one of the deputies involved said the Caravan appeared to be going about 90 mph. It turned left on White Oak Road in Wilbar soon after starting up the Blue Ridge escarpment and continued on that as it became a gravel road and then intersected with Parsonsville Road in Purlear.
The chase went right on Parsonsville Road, left on Summit Road and followed that road as it became Fall Creek Road before ending when the Caravan ran over the stop sticks.
The Ashe and Watauga sheriff’s offices were notified so they could be ready if the chase continued north up the mountain into their counties. The Wilkesboro Police Department also was notified in case it turned in the other direction. The chase was about 25 miles long.
Dancy said that in addition to Johnson and Bishop, Wilkes Sheriff’s Office deputies involved were Jonathan Laws, Derek Zamora, Sgt. D.A. Taylor and Lt. Gene Wyatt.