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Police chase like a ‘TV show’

Screven County resident Lynn Dickerson was on her way to a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday, May 13, when she met a car coming at her head-on – going the wrong direction on Highway 301 in Sylvania.
“It was like watching TV – one of those cop stories or something,” she said. “I thought, ‘Oh, my God, he’s on my side.’”
But the oncoming car veered off the road. “It was like he thought, ‘I’d better not kill this person and went in the ditch.’”
Dickerson said she thought the car was going to flip over, but it made it to the adjacent frontage road and tried to turn into the Sylvania Place Apartment complex. The car got stuck on a concrete wall and the driver got out and fled on foot.
Dickerson said the man was headed toward an apartment where a friend of hers lives, so she called the friend frantically and told her to lock her doors. “She said, “Who is this and why are you telling me to lock my doors,’” Dickerson said. Dickerson said she was able to explain to her friend who she was and what was happening and the friend locked her doors.
Meanwhile, Sylvania police officer Shane Burke was on foot, chasing the driver who had run instead of stopping for a seat belt and turn signal violation.
Within minutes, Burke nabbed the man. Officers found about one-half pound of marijuana in his car.
James Christopher Thomas, 24, of Arnett Street in Sylvania, was arrested and charged with: possession of marijuana with intent to distribute; controlled substance transaction near a housing project; reckless driving; fleeing or attempting to elude police; hit-and-run – failure to stop and render aid; failure to yield right-of-way to vehicle; failure to obey stop sign; seat belt violation; and no proof of insurance.
The incident began at about 12:30 p.m. when Cpl. Romero Gordon tried to stop the brown, 1970 Impala for failure to wear a seat belt and for a turn signal that wasn’t working properly. The car was on N. Main Street, turning left on Habersham Road. The car accelerated and speeded across Highway 301 to Frontage Road W., where it knocked over a speed limit sign.
The car then went across the median to the Highway 301 southbound lane, then across another median to the Highway 301 northbound lane, heading into oncoming traffic and Dickerson’s car.
The car veered across the median to Frontage Road E., with Burke close behind. When the car wrecked and got stuck and the driver fled on foot, Burke chased him for about three minutes before catching him.
Gordon said he could understand why a bystander might think she was on a movie set. “He was airborne a couple of times,” Gordon said – “at least twice.”
Dickerson said she was glad things turned out the way they did. “I thought the police did a very good job,” she said. “It was really neat watching them in action. It was kinda neat and scary at the same time.”