Man arrested after two wrecks

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   A Bluff City man was arrested early Saturday morning and charged in connection with two separate motor vehicle accidents.
   Robert L. Leonard, 39, 1200 Pleasant Grove Rd., Bluff City, was charged with third offense DUI, failing to obey traffic control signals, illegal passing, evading arrest, leaving the scene of an accident and violation of the implied consent law.
   According to police reports, officers were first called to respond to Watauga Avenue in the area of Ivy Hall Nursing Home around 1 a.m. on Saturday on a report of a hit and run motor vehicle accident.
   "As (I) was traveling East on East Elk Avenue I began to turn onto Watauga Avenue when my patrol cruiser was nearly struck by a blue truck which had ran through the stop sign at the intersection of Watauga and East Elk," Elizabethton Police Department Ptl. Joy Shoun said in her report. "I turned and began traveling behind the vehicle on North Lynn Avenue and observed the truck swerving and traveling in a reckless manner."
   Shoun activated the emergency lights on her cruiser and attempted to stop the vehicle while it was at the red light at the intersection of Lynn Avenue and Broad Street. However, as Shoun and EPD Sgt. Charles Moreland approached the truck, the traffic signal turned green and the vehicle fled north on Lynn Avenue.
   Shoun and Moreland caught up to the truck while it was stopped at the traffic light at Lynn Avenue and Mill Street.
   "Once again the light was red and as officers began to approach the driver, the truck passed a vehicle on the right shoulder of the road and began to lose control of the truck in the gravel parking lot of Elizabethton Herb and Metal," Shoun said. "The truck crashed into a light pole and came to rest on its side, on the driver's side, beside of the gas pump at Marathon Gas Station."
   After the crash, the officers approached the vehicle and detected a strong odor of an intoxicating beverage, according to reports.
   Leonard crawled out of the truck because he was not able to exit the vehicle on his own. Members of the Carter County Rescue Squad arrived on the scene and transported Leonard to the Bristol Regional Medical Center for treatment of his injuries.
   "(I) spoke with Mr. Leonard at the hospital and advised him that he was going to be charged with driving under the influence," Shoun said in her report. "He was advised of the Tennessee Implied Consent Law and I requested for him to submit to a chemical blood test. He refused the test."
   Further investigation into the hit and run accident on Watauga Avenue identified the blue truck driven by Leonard as the vehicle which had struck a parked car and fled the scene. Leonard was identified by a witness as the driver of the vehicle.
   Leonard was released later on Saturday from the Bristol Regional Medical Center after receiving treatment and was taken into custody. He is scheduled to appear in General Sessions Court on March 1.