Too Little, Too Late?

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Tullahoma Mayor Calls for Change After Second High Speed Chase Ends in Death


COFFEE COUNTY, Tenn. — The mayor of Tullahoma is calling for change after a Coffee County high-speed chase ends in tragedy for the second time in the last month. This time, the crash took the life of a beloved City employee.

“It’s absolutely not acceptable,” said Tullahoma Mayor Lane Curlee.

The mayor is calling out the Coffee County Sheriff’s Department for flying through his town at speeds of 90 miles an hour, “To pursue an individual or vehicle at that rate of speed through a community, there’s really got to be a really powerful reason.”

The sheriff says the reason was that a driver had a busted license plate light and the passenger acted suspicious, hiding from view from a deputy. The license plate violation gave the deputy cause to pursue Driver Kayla Hickey and Passenger Charleston Ortega. The chase ended-up taking the life of Joe Moon, a friend and colleague of the mayor for 40 years.

“I mean enough is enough! It ain’t been two weeks and we’ve got another death,” Mildred Parker, mother of Jessica Campos, the woman who died in the last high-speed chase.

Just weeks ago, Coffee County deputies chased a man who stole a car from a funeral home and that chase also ended in crash that took the life of Jessica Campos, a mother of two young children.

“Her kids, her 7 year old son is crying for her every night,” said Parker. “I mean when is it going to stop?”

Just this week, Campos’ family filed a $10 million lawsuit against the sheriff’s department for the chase that they felt was unjustified.

The sheriff says his investigation found nothing wrong. According to its pursuit policy, a deputy can chase if there’s the possibility of loss of life, serious injury or major property damage.

“What is your reaction to this happening twice now in the last few weeks?” asked Reporter Sabrina Hall.

“Criminals ought to stop,” said Craig Northcott, the Coffee County District Attorney.

The district attorney backs up the sheriff’s department and says he’d only prosecute if a deputy committed a crime.

In pursuits, the Coffee County Sheriff’s department investigates itself on whether a deputy followed protocol when it comes to a high-speed chase.

The Tullahoma mayor and Campos’ family are calling for change.

“They are already are asking questions,” said Mayor Curlee. “What can be done?”

“It’s got to stop,” said Parker.

The 21-year-old driver, Hickey, who fled from deputies is locked-up at the Coffee County Jail. The DA says he plans to hold her and her passenger, Ortega, accountable for the loss of life.

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