Weatherford Democrat

Z_CNHI News Service

November 14, 2013

Police chase ends in deadly wreck

NASHVILLE, Ga. — A man leading police on a high-speed chase ran a stop sign and slammed into into an SUV, killing a brother and sister and injuring a third sibling, police said.

Matthew Dean Horton, 23, and Kelly Marie Prescott, 32, were riding with their sister, Heidi Nicole Mancil, preparing to celebrate Manci's 31st birthday on Tuesday. The trio were at an intersection in the tiny city of Nashville, Ga., police said, when Israel Timothy Rutland ran a stop sign in a silver Ford F-150 pickup and broadsided their SUV.

The crash killed Horton and Prescott, both of Willacoochee, Ga. Mancil was taken to a hospital with injuries not considered to be life-threatening, said Richard Kennedy, a senior trooper in the Georgia State Patrol.

Though Rutland broke his back, Tift County Sheriff Gene Scarbrough said he "got out fighting" after the crash. "They tried to take him down, and he fought the officers," he said.

Police charged Rutland, 38, of Tifton, with vehicular homicide and causing Mancil's injuries. He faces additional charges - including driving under the influence and aggravated assault on a police officer - stemming from incidents that began last week.

Scarbrough said police had been searching for Rutland since a hit-and-run accident last Thursday. State police pursued him after that accident but broke off the chase. On Monday, officers stopped Rutland in Tift County, but he eluded them by attempting to hit them with his vehicle, the sheriff said.

Tift County sheriff's deputies again tried to stop Rutland on Tuesday but later ended the pursuit, the sheriff said. Later in the day, a deputy saw him and followed him into neighboring Cook County, then Berrien County, where Nashville is located. Rutland attempted to run the deputy off the road, the sheriff said, and was driving 75 to 80 mph when he hit the SUV.

Asked about the chase, which involved several agencies, Scarbrough said officers followed protocol and made the best choices given the circumstances.

“It hurts so bad to know that these people’s lives have changed forever because of somebody that made a bad decision," said Scarbrough, who choked up during the press conference.

Details for this story were reported by the Tifton Gazette and the Valdosta Daily Times.

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