Johnson City Press: UPDATE: Carter cruiser crashes through drive-in theater, strikes owner
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UPDATE: Carter cruiser crashes through drive-in theater, strikes owner

John Thompson • Updated Jul 11, 2019 at 8:44 PM

ELIZABETHTON — A deputy with the Carter County Sheriff’s Department crashed his police car into the movie screen of the State Line Drive-In on U.S. Highway 19E on Thursday afternoon.

The owner of the drive-in, Andrew Wetzel, 48, was reported to have been struck by the cruiser but was not injured. Wetzel reportedly refused medical treatment on the scene.

Sheriff Dexter Lunceford identified the deputy who was driving the cruiser as Caleb Rojek. The sheriff said there were no injuries in the accident, which is being investigated by the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

The Highway Patrol’s preliminary report said Rojek was driving a 2009 Ford Crown Victoria that was part of the sheriff’s department fleet.

Lunceford said Rojek was responding to a police pursuit in Hampton at the time of the accident and was traveling south on U.S. Highway 19E.

The Highway Patrol’s preliminary report said there were two southbound vehicles on the highway in front of the cruiser, which had its emergency lights and siren on. One in the left southbound lane was a 1999 Toyota Corolla driven by Bobby Scalf, 69, Erwin. The second vehicle was a 2004 Jeep Liberty driven by Joseph Hill, 40, Elizabethton.

According to the report, Rojek attempted to pass on the right shoulder of the emergency lane. As the cruiser approached to pass, the Jeep Liberty began to merge right, then swerved left, striking the Toyota. Rojek lost control of the cruiser, ran off the roadway and struck a metal structure at the drive-in theater at 2306 State Line Road.

No charges were placed, according to the preliminary report.

The drive-in theater was not scheduled to be open on Thursday.

Previously reported at 2:52 p.m.

ELIZABETHTON — A deputy with the Carter County Sheriff’s Department crashed his police car into the movie screen of the State Line Drive In on U.S. Highway 19E on Thursday afternoon.

Sheriff Dexter Lunceford identified the deputy as Caleb Rojek. He said there were no injuries in the accident, which is being investigated by the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Lunceford said Rojek was driving an older model vehicle and was responding to a police pursuit in Hampton at the time of the accident. He was going south on U.S. Highway 19E when the vehicle went off the right side of the road and onto the drive-in property.

Lunceford said the pursuit ended successfully and the person involved in that pursuit was taken to the Carter County Jail.

The drive-in theater was not scheduled to be open on Thursday. Management has not yet returned a phone call to say whether the business will be open on Friday night.

Previously reported at 2:30 p.m.

A Carter County Sheriff’s deputy crashed a cruiser into a building at the State Line Drive-In in Elizabethton Thursday afternoon while trying to catch up to a police pursuit.

A Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper on the scene of the crash said officers began chasing a suspect in Elizabethton shortly before 1 p.m. As the vehicle left the city limits, Carter County deputies joined the pursuit.

The deputy, who the trooper did not name, was rushing to catch up to the pursuit and lost control of the cruiser when he swerved to avoid a stopped vehicle in front of him.

The car skidded a considerable distance off the highway and crashed through the metal side of the outdoor movie theater.

Check back here later for more information as it becomes available.

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