A 28-year-old woman has been charged in a multi-vehicle crash that injured two Chattanooga police officers on Thursday morning.
Kathleen Vallin is charged with reckless aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, vehicular assault, violation of traffic control device, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, reckless driving, driving under the influence, failure to drive on roadways laned for traffic and failure to exercise due care, according to Hamilton County Sheriff's Office arrest records.
Officers were at the scene of a jackknifed semi-truck on Interstate 24 westbound near Rossville Boulevard in the early morning hours of Oct. 13. At 1:19 a.m., officials were notified that a crash had occurred involving two officers with the Chattanooga Police Department, according to the arrest affidavit.
The officers were diverting traffic away from the semi-truck when a driver, identified by police as Vallin, allegedly attempted to go around a police SUV blocking the way with its emergency lights on. An officer on foot jumped out of the way and onto a concrete median, but the vehicle made contact with his leg, according to a news release. Vallin then crashed into the back of another police vehicle that also had its emergency lights on, police said. The impact totaled the vehicle, caused it to spin and trapped an officer inside, authorities said.
Vallin was placed in custody and restrained due to her "combativeness" and "hostility" before being transported and admitted for observation at a local hospital, the affidavit states. Officials on the scene said she smelled of alcohol and said Vallin said she had been drinking. Written statements from witnesses on the scene allege that Vallin was seen "traveling at a high rate of speed and weaving in and out of traffic."
The affidavit notes that there had been medium to heavy rainfall throughout the night.
The trapped officer was extricated by the Chattanooga Fire Department and sustained injuries to his arm, head and lower extremities. The officer who jumped out of the way of the moving vehicle sustained a minor knee injury. Both were taken to a local hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.
The document also states that Vallin's vehicle caught on fire after the crash, and the fire was extinguished.
Inside her vehicle, officers said, they found an empty and cold can of Truly, a brand of alcoholic seltzer. Her phone's navigation indicated a destination north of St. Louis, Missouri, with 571 miles to go.
Two vials of blood were taken from Vallin at the hospital following a search warrant and were sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for pending analysis.
The names of the two officers have not been released.