A South Carolina man driving a 2008 Ford Crown Victoria led officers on a high speed chase through six counties on Interstate 20 before the vehicle suffered disabling damage upon striking a building in Atlanta.
According to Morgan County Sheriff’s Office reports, Garrett Mathew Johnson, 21, Bluffton, S.C., was arrested at gunpoint after the Crown Victoria crashed into a building on Carroll Street in Atlanta at approximately 12:40 a.m. on Friday, April 2.
The chase, reports state, started in the westbound lane of Interstate 20 near the 115.5 mile marker after a deputy reportedly observed the Crown Victoria, which had been reported by several drivers on the interstate of driving recklessly, allegedly failing to maintain a lane and swerving across the interstate.
Deputy Cameron Ptak activated the emergency lights on his patrol car and, he reported, the Crown Victoria slowed briefly then accelerated. Deputy Ptak reported that the chase reached speeds between 115 mph and 130 mph and that the Crown Victoria was passing other vehicles on the interstate by using the emergency lane. Deputy Ptak said the chase traveled through Morgan, Walton, Newton, and Rockdale Counties before entering Dekalb County where the vehicle made an abrupt exit on Boulevard SE and was driving at such a high rate of speed that the vehicle became airborne at the intersection of Boulevard and Memorial Drive.
Once on Carroll Street, Deputy Ptak reported, the vehicle ran onto a sidewalk and struck a residential building. However, Johnson continued to try and drive the Crown Victoria despite “a large amount of sparks” flying from under the vehicle. The Crown Victoria finally stopped at the end of Carroll Street and Deputy Ptak and Deputy Miguel Ocon approached the vehicle with their service weapons drawn. Johnson was removed from the vehicle, placed face down on the roadway and handcuffed.
Reports state that deputies searched the vehicle and allegedly found an amount of suspected marijuana under the front seat and “multiple open beer bottles.”
Johnson faces charges of reckless driving, open container, driving in the emergency lane, speeding, failure to maintain lane, driving under the influence of multiple substances, fleeing and attempting to elude and possession of marijuana.