The incident began about 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 31, when Highland Officer Bryan Buchannan tried to stop a vehicle he said was driving erratically.
According to Highland Police Chief Jeremy Stevens, the vehicle refused to stop and headed west on Highway 62-412, reaching speeds of more than 120 miles per hour.
Fulton County Sheriff Buck Foley said he was upset that his department was not notified that the Highland officer had entered Fulton County, and needed assistance.
Fulton County was finally notified by a Cherokee Village Police Officer but, by that time, Fulton County and Salem Police had little time to react.
"A Salem officer reached the Highway 62-Highway 9 intersection and had his lights on, when the cars blew by law at full speed," Chief Deputy Al Roork said. "Had we had more notice, we could have put stop strips across the road to try to end the pursuit."
According to Roork, a Sheriff's Deputy had reached the top of the hill near the Skyvue Shopping Center when the pursuit went by him.
As the chase continued between Salem and Viola,
officers were told an order had been issued for the Highland officer to stop the chase. Baxter County and Mountain Home officers had gotten enough advance notice to assemble to try to stop the fleeing vehicle, and, before they dispursed, word was received that the suspect vehicle, a 2012 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, and the Highland patrol car had crashed at Highway 62B and Pioneer Trail Drive in Baxter County. The Highland vehicle was badly damaged and came to rest on its top, but Buchannan was not seriously injured.
A manhunt was begun when it was determined that the occupants of the suspect vehicle had fled the scene. About 12 officers, Calico Rock prison tracking dogs and the Baxter County Sheriff's helicopter were involved in the search and, at about 3:45 a.m., a suspect, Billy Dewayne Furlow, Jr. of Blytheville, Ark., was arrested inside the Walmart Supercenter, which was near the crash scene. According to Roork, Fulton County Deputy Boyd Dailey, who had traveled to Mountain Home to help with the manhunt, was the officer who took Furlow into custody.
The Baxter County Sheriff's Office issued an alert for Africa Wells, 39, of Jonesboro, who was believed to be the driver of the vehicle. Police warned that Wells had a history of violent behavior and should be considered armed and dangerous.
Investigators recovered methamphetamine, marijuana, prescription pills and cash from the suspects' vehicle, after the crash.
At 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 1, the sheriff's office announced that Wells had been apprehended in Blytheville.
The Highland Police Department is conducting an internal investigation into Officer Buchannan's pursuit of the vehicle.
Sheriff Foley has conveyed his concerns about not being properly notified the chase had entered Fulton County. In addition, Buchannan apparently did not respond to the radio transmission ordering him to stop the pursuit because of the danger involved. According to Chief Stevens, the vehicle being chased switched from lane to lane and sometimes traveled in the oncoming traffic lanes, while traveling at speeds of more than 120 miles per hour.
Officer Buchannan has been placed on paid administrative leave during the internal investigation.
Roork said it was fortunate that no one was hurt in the high speed chase, adding, "Our officers do not do 120 mile an hour chases, because of the danger to others."
Billy Furlow, who was arrested in Mountain Home, is charged with possession of methamphetamine, marijuana and Xanax, and Fleeing Police Officers (on foot).
Baxter County charges are pending against Africa Wells. He is being held in Blytheville on an outstanding warrant.