Pursuit ends when McCreary man crashes at end of parkway
By CHRIS HARRIS, CJ Staff Writer Commonwealth Journal
The sudden end of the old Cumberland Parkway has claimed numerous cars to unfortunate accidents. This weekend, it actually helped law enforcement nab a highly sought-after suspect.
Donnie Jason Lair, 33, of Stearns in McCreary County, was arrested after allegedly leading Somerset Police in a pursuit that ended in him crashing a reportedly stolen car at that particular intersection, where what had been the parkway ends suddenly and connects with the Ky. 914 bypass.
According to the Somerset Police Department (SPD), on Friday night, Officer Billy Bolin saw a pick-up truck make a U-turn on North U.S. 27 and spin its tires.
When Bolin responded, The truck's driver, Lair, allegedly attempted to flee from officers and drove south on U.S. 27, then west on the West Ky. 80 Bypass, the former section of Cumberland Parkway.
However, Lair failed to observe that the 80 bypass ends at intersection with Ky. 914 intersection and struck an earth embankment on the west side of the intersection, according to police.
Lair was taken into custody along with his passenger, Tiffany Keen, 32, of Deer Lodge, Tenn.
The 1994 Chevrolet pick-up was reported stolen from S and S Auto Sales in McCreary County on May 24, according to SPD.
Lair was charged with first-degree fleeing or evading police, receiving stolen property, driving under the influence, and operating a vehicle on a suspended license. He was also charged with two McCreary County warrants for first-degree robbery, and theft by unlawful taking.
Lair was also wanted in Wayne County for criminal possession of a forged instrument, theft by deception, receiving stolen property, and fleeing or evading police.
According to the McCreary County Record, Lair was identified as a suspect in a string of auto thefts in Kentucky and Tennessee recently, following a pursuit in that county involving a stolen 2002 Chevrolet pick-up truck, allegedly left abandoned by Lair after stealing it. The McCreary Sheriff’s Office’s investigation involved up to six vehicles reported stolen as of last week.
Given his suspected involvement, the McCreary Sheriff had put out information about Lair, seeking the public’s help in capturing him.
Keen was charged with alcohol intoxication and having prescription controlled substances not in their proper container.
Both were lodged in the Pulaski Count Detention Center.
Accidents at that intersection are not uncommon. According to Derek Stringer of the Pulaski County 911 Emergency Center, there have been approximately 50 wrecks there since December of 2010, after the section was blocked off and those headed west toward Russell County took a somewhat altered route on the bypass.
The number of accidents has lessened over time, said Stringer — at first, some occurred because drivers were used to going forward and not encountering a roadblock, or perhaps couldn’t see it due to visibility conditions — but they still happen, as evidenced by Friday’s incident.
Somerset Police units were assisted in the incident by the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department, Fifth District Constable Mike Wallace, the Pulaski County Detention Center, and the Eubank Police Department.