Pursuit spans 2 counties before ending at park
Instead of hearing a bat crash into a baseball, anyone near the Williamsburg ball diamonds Thursday evening could have heard a Cadillac crash into a dugout.
The unexpected arrival that damaged a fence and broke apart the dugout’s concrete blocks leaves volunteers to figure out what to do next to repair the damage.
Claude Reynolds, a board member for Williamsburg Youth League, urges residents to stay off the diamond until the damage is repaired and the caution tape is removed because of safety concerns.
Reynolds said the youth league’s season is over, so there wasn’t a crowd at the park as there could have been. However, a couple of travel teams practice there and families go there to practice with children, and others go to the creek to fish and swim.
“We are just glad nobody was there,” Reynolds said. “Two weeks ago we had three tournaments going on.”
Reynolds is working with the board to determine if they need any assistance from the community to help pay for the repairs.
>> How it started
Richmond and Lynn police departments and Wayne County Sheriff’s Office all were part of a police pursuit that began in Richmond and ended on the county’s northern edge.
Police said the 2005 black Cadillac went onto the Cardinal Greenway trail reserved for pedestrians and bicycles, often packed for recreational use at 7:30 on a nice summer evening.
The car eventually reached Randolph County and Fountain City before its journey ended at the Williamsburg youth field, law enforcement personnel said.
After crashing into the dugout, 29-year-old Jason Ashcraft of the 400 block of South Sixth Street in Richmond ran away but was soon apprehended by a K9 officer, police said.
RPD’s Major Aly Tonuc said the pursuit began when Ashcraft’s vehicle passed an RPD officer on routine patrol on North West E Street.
The Cadillac was northbound on North West Second, and the officer reported being passed in an unsafe manner at a high rate of speed, with the vehicle beginning to evade her, Tonuc said.
The Cadillac went quite a distance on the Cardinal Greenway at Union Pike, heading north out of the city. RPD terminated the pursuit because of safety concerns for pedestrians, Tonuc said. She said someone reported being run off the Greenway trail by the Cadillac.
However, Randolph County officers heard about the pursuit and picked it up when the driver came off the trail in their jurisdiction, Tonuc said.
Wayne County sheriff deputies responded to the greenway north of Richmond, but the Cadillac exited before they could intercept it, and it got to U.S. 27, Sheriff Randy Retter said. Lynn Police Department soon pursued the car southbound on U.S. 27 heading toward Wayne County.
WCSO deputies joined Lynn officers in the pursuit as it reached Fountain City, with the car traveling west on Fountain City Pike out of town, disregarding stop signs and traveling at excessive speeds until it came to the T intersection at Centerville Road, Retter said.
The Cadillac continued through the intersection and into the Williamsburg ball diamonds on the west side of Centerville Road, running through a fence and into a concrete dugout before coming to a stop.
Ashcraft then fled on foot from the vehicle toward the Cardinal Greenway trail, Retter said.
WCSO K9 Barry, who was involved in the pursuit, was ultimately able to apprehend Ashcraft just off the Cardinal Greenway, Retter said.
Ashcraft was taken to Reid Health for evaluation and treatment following the crash and K9 apprehension. He ultimately was released from Reid before being lodged in the jail.
On Friday, Wayne Superior Court 1 found probable cause for Ashcraft to face charges of resisting law enforcement and operating a vehicle after being a habitual traffic offender (Level 6 felonies, reckless driving, leaving the scene of a crash and criminal recklessness, all B misdemeanors.