Tahlequah Daily Press

December 27, 2012

Two injured after man flees police

By JOSH NEWTON
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Two people were injured early Wednesday morning after a convicted felon led police on a pursuit.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers said Brandon Hembree, 24, of Welling, was driving a 2011 Hyundai Elantra when he tried to elude Tahlequah police.

Tahlequah Police Department Public Information Officer Brad Robertson said Patrolman Brandon Vick attempted to stop the vehicle for speeding at about 1 a.m. The vehicle allegedly failed to stop for Vick and continued south on Muskogee Avenue from Willis Road, then went south of the city limits. Hembree then drove on back roads on the west side of State Highway 82, police said.

Vick backed away and discontinued the pursuit because the roads in the area were slick from ice, according to Robertson. Vick then headed back toward the city and came upon Hembree’s vehicle in a ditch on Stone Chapel Road.

Hembree had been ejected about 35 feet from the vehicle, which had rolled 1-1/2 times, according to the OHP.

Troopers said the vehicle struck a tree after hitting ice and losing control.

Hembree was taken to Tahlequah City Hospital by ambulance and then flown by EagleMed to St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa to be treated for head, arm, leg, internal and external injuries. He was listed in stable condition, troopers said.

Samantha Drywater, 18, of Tahlequah, was a passenger in the vehicle and was taken to a Tahlequah hospital, where she was treated and later released.

Police arrested a second passenger, Robert Lee Finch, 24, of Tahlequah, who was checked by EMS at the scene and booked on an alcohol charge, according to Robertson.

Troopers said Hembree was under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash, and list DUI as the cause of the crash.

Court records show Hembree has an extensive criminal history in Cherokee County, including past charges of possession of a controlled substance, robbery by force and fear, unauthorized use of a vehicle, aggravated assault and battery, open container beer, and possession of stolen vehicles.