Coroner Injured In Head On Crash With Stolen Truck - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

12/06/04

Coroner Injured In Head On Crash With Stolen Truck

A police pursuit of a stolen truck ended abruptly on the I-110 Monday afternoon.

That's where the truck crashed head on into the Harrison County coroner's SUV. Coroner Gary Hargrove was taken to the hospital, where he was treated and released.

The chase began after Gulfport police got a tip from an officer's wife.

Shattered glass and skid marks covered the southbound lanes of the I-110 just north of interstate ten. The immediate attention was on Harrison County coroner Gary Hargrove. Hargrove was hurt when the stolen truck slammed head on into his SUV.

The Highway Patrol's Joe Gazzo told WLOX News that Hargrove had used the vehicle to try and block the suspect's escape route.

"And this was a pursuit initiated by the City of Gulfport in which they were pursuing a stolen vehicle," said Wendy Swetman with the Harrison County sheriff's office.

The stolen truck was wedged in the ditch with a Gulfport patrol car parked alongside. A muddy Highway Patrol car also showed evidence of its involvement with the chase.

"Officers tried to initiate a traffic stop. The individual that was in the vehicle failed to stop. And the pursuit was initiated," explained Alfred Sexton with the Gulfport Police Department.

The initial pursuit began in East Gulfport, after police received a tip about a suspicious person seeking help from Handsboro United Methodist Church.

"She just had a strange feeling about him," said Pastor Rachel Benefield, who says she thought little about the man in a big, red truck asking for help with gas.

But one of her church members, whose husband is a Gulfport police officer, did pick up on something.

"She kind of felt funny about this particular guy, and decided to call her husband and get them to run the license tag. And when they did, they discovered he was driving a stolen vehicle," said Benefield.

The chase which followed ended abruptly at the I-110 where a team of investigators spent the minutes after the crash collecting clues.

The suspect, who was not hurt, was arrested at the scene.

Steven Joel Miller faces charges of possession of stolen property and felony failure to stop for a police officer.

By Steve Phillips

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