New Passat 'foils' suspects' getaway

New Passat 'foils' suspects' getaway

March 22nd, 2011 by Adam Crisp in News

Dozens of new Passats made at the Chattanooga Volkswagen assembly plant are seen parked outside the plant recently. Staff photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press

Community leaders have been promising for years that the Chattanooga-made 2012 Volkswagen Passat would create jobs and change the community.

And now the car is helping fight crime.

On Monday, a motorist test-driving a 2012 Passat managed to help nab suspects fleeing from police on Bonny Oaks Drive.

It was just accidental. The VW driver was in the right place at the right time, police said, and the fleeing vehicle lost control after hitting the Passat and wound up in a ditch. Chattanooga officers eventually nabbed three suspects implicated in retail thefts, police said.

Guenther Scherelis, VW spokesman, would not comment except to say the incident "is a police matter."

The crash happened at 6600 Bonny Oaks Drive, said Sgt. Jerri Weary, police spokeswoman. Sheila Marie Horne, 31; Angie Stahl, 26; and Ralph William Cameron, 46, all were being held in the Hamilton County Jail on Monday afternoon, she said.

The incident began Monday afternoon when officers spotted a vehicle wanted in connection with recent thefts at the Best Buy near Hamilton Place, Weary said. Upon seeing police, Horne, who was driving the vehicle, sped away and ran a red light, Weary said.

Police caught up to Horne and tried to get her to pull over but she refused, leading police in a chase down Bonny Oaks Drive, the sergeant said. After running several more red lights, Horne clipped the front end of the Passat and spun out of control, she said.

Horne and Stahl ran from the vehicle but quickly were apprehended by pursuing officers, Weary said.

Witnesses saw Cameron get out of the wrecked vehicle's trunk, grab bags full of merchandise and walk west on Bonny Oaks, she said. An officer took Cameron into custody, Weary said, and in the process, a Taser was used on him because he began to fight with police and resisted being handcuffed.

The merchandise in the bags was stolen from the Signal Mountain Walmart, Weary said.

It also was discovered that Horne and Stahl were wanted on felony warrants in Indiana, she said.

Contact staff writer Adam Crisp at acrisp@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6323. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/adam_crisp.