One man is dead following the crash that occurred Wednesday afternoon on Central Avenue Pike in north Knox County after a two-county police chase, and a man wanted in both Anderson and Knox counties has been charged with vehicular homicide, authorities said.
According to the initial investigation, 26-year-old Ralpheal Cameron Coffey was fleeing from the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department in a 2007 maroon Chevy Impala when he almost struck an officer with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office in his cruiser around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday on Heiskell Road, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office said. The officer turned the cruiser around to pursue Coffey, but found the Impala had crashed into a 2007 white Ford F150 pickup truck on Central Avenue Pike at Callahan Drive.
Coffey and his passenger, Tommie Troupe, 44, as well as the driver of the Ford, Kevin Bradley, 27, and his passenger, Eric Kennedy, 26, were taken to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville with incapacitating injuries. Bradley was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Coffey was wanted in Anderson County, and he also had outstanding warrants in Knox County that include evading arrest; unlawful to refuse inspection and count of any wildlife taken; wildlife resources agency violation; license or permit required for hunting, fishing, and trapping; and criminal impersonation, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office said.
He has a criminal history in Knox County that includes multiple traffic offenses, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Coffey is charged with vehicular homicide; drugs: manufacture, delivery, sale, or possession of cocaine in amounts greater than .5 grams (or less than .5 grams where defendant carried deadly weapon or the offense resulted in death or bodily injury); simple possession; and driving while privilege suspended, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office said.
Coffey has previously had Oak Ridge addresses, but his last address listed on the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department website, from a 2014 arrest, is in Knoxville. Coffey had eight arrests between 2010 and 2014 in Anderson County on charges related to drugs, driving offenses, probation violations, and failures to appear, according to Anderson County Sheriff’s Department records.
Anderson County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Mark Lucas said deputies were looking for Coffey around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Claxton area for several outstanding warrants. Coffey was spotted in a maroon Chevrolet Impala on Edgemoor Road, Lucas said.
“As deputies started to make a vehicle stop on Coffey, he began fleeing toward Clinton Highway on Edgemoor Road,” Lucas said. “Deputies began a pursuit that crossed Clinton Highway onto Raccoon Valley Road and into Knox County. Deputies lost sight of the vehicle as it went under the railroad trestle on Raccoon Valley Road in Heiskell.”
Witnesses pointed out that the vehicle turned southbound onto Heiskell Road toward Powell, Lucas said. But deputies were unable to locate the vehicle and terminated their pursuit.
“We notified both Knox County Sheriff’s Office and Tennessee Highway Patrol of the pursuit, vehicle information, and that Coffey was wanted on outstanding warrants,” Lucas said. “Around five minutes later, we were notified by Knox County the vehicle had been involved in a crash on Central Avenue Pike at Callahan Road.”
On Wednesday, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office said it was unknown whether or not those involved were wearing seat belts.
“Drugs and alcohol are not thought to be factors in the crash,” the Knox County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday evening.
The Anderson County Sheriff’s Department said most of Coffey’s previous arrests have been by the Oak Ridge Police Department and the Seventh Judicial District Crime Task Force.
“Our warrants are out of Criminal Court for failing to report on felony drug charges and violation of community corrections,” Lucas said. “Oak Ridge Police Department has a felony drug warrant and Oliver Springs Police Department has a failure to appear as well.”
Oak Ridge sports fans recall Coffey as a former Wildcat football and basketball player a little less than a decade ago.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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