Sirens on Utah Mountain

BROKEN SILENCE — As a rule, Utah Mountain is a serene place where there’s little traffic and next to no noise other than what can be heard in nature. That changed for a few brief hours last month when deputies were chasing a suspect.

I was drinking coffee, still in my nightgown, when I heard a sound I hadn’t heard this close since I moved to our mountain home a year ago — police sirens, right outside my door.

I walked out onto our deck and, sure enough, there just below were two police cars, lights twirling, parked behind a pickup truck. My husband and I quickly realized that no one was in any of the three vehicles.

“That driver didn’t know the road ended here,” I said. “So he’s running and they’re chasing him on foot.”

Then, I had these thoughts in quick succession:

1. I should take a photo.

2. I should get dressed.

3. We should lock our doors in case they thought to come up the mountain instead of going down!

Soon it was clear they were likely stumbling down, not up. So I texted my friend who lives directly below me, to make sure his doors were locked. He told me later, he was outside talking to an officer about the sirens when he got my text, which shook him up a bit. He immediately went in, locked up and searched the house, and then searched it again just to be sure. And then stayed inside until I gave him the all clear.

As time went on, we got more information about what was going on and sent emails to homeowners on the mountain — you could hear the sirens everywhere — and finally gave the all clear almost three hours later. I talked to the officers later and posted this on our homeowners association blog:

Sirens were blazing on Utah Mountain today, Aug. 13, when a man wanted on a federal warrant decided to flee a traffic stop on Jonathan Creek Road and turned on Utah Mountain Road.

He ended up at the dead end of Tuckaway Road, jumped from his pickup truck and started running down the mountain. Two police cars were right on his tail, however, and the officers gave chase on foot.

They didn’t catch him, but they know who he is. Sgt. Mark Mease of the Haywood County Sheriff’s office says he lives on the other side of Jonathan Creek Road, so they’re watching for him to show up at home eventually.

“He’s wanted on some drug charges, so he was not a danger to people. Y’all were never in any danger,” Mease said.

Mease apologized for the two hours of siren noise, saying that when the officers jumped from their cars, the doors automatically locked and they had not turned off the sirens in their hurry to try to catch the guy.

At one point, there were as many as seven police cars lined up behind the pickup, which was eventually towed from Tuckaway Road. The entire incident lasted less than three hours.

The pickup driver had tattoos and dark hair and was wearing a gray shirt. If you have information on this incident, please contact Mease at the sheriff’s office’s non-emergency number, 828-452-6666.

Dr. Carolyn S. Carlson recently retired as an Associate Professor of Communication and director of the Journalism and Emerging Media major at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta, Georgia.

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