Tahlequah Daily Press

November 27, 2013

Officials: Report suspicious drivers

By JOSH NEWTON
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to investigate Monday night when an unidentified driver became aggressive and followed another driver as she traveled State Highway 82 north of Tahlequah.

Katherine Grasshopper said she was driving at about 9:30 p.m. when the incident began.

“A car appeared literally out of nowhere behind me on [State Highway 82] out by Log Store North,” Grasshopper explained in a post on Facebook.

Grasshopper said the reckless driver began to tailgate her vehicle and turned on its high-beam headlights, then began to swerve left and right.

“This went on with them backing up and turning their high-beams down and then speeding up and flashing them on again for a while,” Grasshopper reported. “After about the first 45 seconds, I realized something was wrong and got on the phone with 911.”

Grasshopper turned off S.H. 82 to go toward Moody, and the reckless driver looked as if he or she would continue north, but suddenly turned and continued following her. Grasshopper eventually turned into a random drive so she could backtrack and go to a family member’s home.

“The car actually stopped and turned its lights off,” Grasshopper said. “I informed [dispatchers] of this and got back on the road going the opposite way to my cousin’s house.”

That family member told Grasshopper he, too, had a similar experience a few days before.

After Grasshopper posted her story on Facebook, the post was shared multiple times. Some suggested the reckless driver was involved in a gang initiation, and that part of the initiation is to force other vehicles off the road.

Some who read Grasshopper’s post said they, too, have recently experienced the situation north of Tahlequah.

Grasshopper describes the vehicle as a late-’80s model white car.

Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault confirmed Tuesday that dispatchers received a call from a woman – though she didn’t leave her name – whose story matched Grasshopper’s account. Chennault said the sheriff’s office has received no similar reports of the dangerous driver.

Deputies were sent to the area Monday night when Grasshopper called, and were ultimately unable to find the car described to them.

“I can’t confirm it’s a gang initiation, since we’ve only had one report and don’t have more details,” Chennault said. “If you feel someone is following you, go to the nearest safe place. Call 911, or the sheriff’s office, or the police department and we’ll send someone out there.”

Chennault said to never confront someone who is giving chase or being aggressive on the road.

“Do your best to identify the vehicle so we’ll know who to look for, but only without putting yourself in danger,” said Chennault.

If possible, get a tag number.

“The only people you should stop for are red and blue lights,” Chennault said.

jnewton@tahlequahdailypress.com