Officials: Suspects crash in failed escape

Two Chattanooga men are in the Whitfield County jail after trying unsuccessfully to outrun a Tunnel Hill police officer — and elude officers from the Dalton Police Department, Georgia State Patrol and Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office, officials said.

Tunnel Hill Police Lt. Scott Reneau said he was on Interstate 75 shortly after 2 p.m. when he saw a Volkswagen car heading south and failing to maintain its lane. When he tried to pull the car over, the driver, LaCharleston Haggard, left the interstate at Exit 336 in Rocky Face and took off, Reneau said.

He said Haggard tried to get back on I-75 heading north but crashed the car at the on ramp. Then Haggard and passenger Eric McReynolds took off running, he said. Reneau said officers from the sheriff’s office and police department helped set up a perimeter to keep the men from getting away and the state patrol was also involved in the chase.

The two were eventually caught about 30 minutes after the crash, roughly 300 yards away, near Willowdale Road. Most of the chase took place away from the public, at times going through the woods, a field and a swampy area, Reneau said.

Reneau said he later discovered the men had cocaine in their vehicle and that McReynolds was wanted on a felony warrant in Chattanooga for allegedly possessing cocaine to sell it. Reneau said the men apparently didn’t want to face the consequences of getting caught.

“(One of them) has a relative that lives, I think, down here in Dalton, and they had told them that we don’t play down here in Whitfield County,” Reneau said.

McReynolds, 23, of 1207 Belmade St., Chattanooga, was charged with possession of cocaine, obstruction and being a fugitive from justice. Haggard, 22, of 1701 Mulberry St., Chattanooga, was charged with possession of cocaine, obstruction, failure to maintain lane, fleeing to elude a police officer and driving on a suspended license.

Reneau said he appreciated the police department and sheriff’s office setting up a perimeter to help catch the men.

“That’s where it ends the best — the bad guys go to jail, they’re not hurt and we’re not hurt,” he said.