High speed chase ends in fatality

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Monett man died in a one-vehicle crash on Sunday night while trying to outrun a Barry County Sheriff's deputy.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Jeremy M. Potter, 22, was being pursued by a deputy when Potter's vehicle ran off the roadway and struck a tree on Highway 37 in Monett. The crash occurred at 10:42 p.m. north of the Highway 37/60 intersection.

Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly said his deputy was travelling southbound on Highway 37 when he passed the northbound Potter vehicle, which was travelling in excess of 80 miles per hour.

"My officer turned around to see why he was driving so fast," said Epperly. "He turned his emergency lights and siren on and the driver wouldn't stop."

According to the sheriff, his deputy pursued the vehicle from north of Butterfield to Monett with both travelling at speeds of 100 miles per hour and more.

"The driver didn't slow down at a red light and my officer lost visuals on him just past the viaduct on Highway 37," said Epperly. "When my officer got to the other side of the viaduct, he saw that the driver had hit a tree."

Epperly said he does not know why Potter attempted to outrun the officer. Potter was driving without a license and had a misdemeanor warrant out of Henry County. He was allegedly returning to Springfield from a weekend of National Guard duty.

"It's a bad deal," said Epperly.

Potter was pronounced dead at the scene by Barry County Coroner Skip White. Potter's body was taken to Buchanan Funeral Home in Monett.

The crash is under investigation by the Highway Patrol, but Epperly is confident his officer followed department protocol during the pursuit.

"My officer followed procedure," said Epperly. "We listened to radio traffic and everything seemed to be done to protocol.

"We have to act in a situation like this," Epperly said. "We need to know is this guy driving drunk or running dope? It's just unfortunate the driver didn't stop in this instance."

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