Suspect rams police while fleeing, ends up in river

William B. Friend
William B. Friend

LOVELY, Ky. — A police chase on both sides of the Tug Fork resulted in damage to a number of police vehicles and ended with the suspect in the river.

It all began around 10 Saturday night, when a red Lexus fled a traffic stop in Mingo County by ramming a deputy’s cruiser.

Later, on the Kentucky side of the river, a state trooper spotted the car going down the road, missing a headlight and tire. The trooper tried to pull over the car, but it fled instead.

Several police agencies joined in the chase down Route 292, which came to an end when the Lexus struck a Martin County deputy’s personal vehicle and went into a yard. The car then circled a home, struck a K9 unit’s patrol car, then tried to circle the home again before crashing into a wall and getting blocked in by Sheriff John Kirk.

The driver — identified as 39-year-old William Friend, of Matewan — then jumped out of the car and ran away, leading police along the river bank. The state trooper deployed a taser as Friend jumped over an embankment, causing him to fall face-first into brush.

The taser then disconnected and the man ran into the river, where he stopped and grabbed onto a stump in the water. He was finally arrested after being forcibly removed from the river.

He now faces charges of fleeing police, wanton endangerment, resiting arrest and other charges.