By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
An Alabama Law Enforcement Agency spokesman said this week that the January 23 collision on Alabama 21 that killed a Monroe County man did not involve a high-speed chase by any law enforcement agency.
Lt. Joe Piggott of the Mobile state trooper post admitted that a law enforcement officer was involved in the incident but said the officer did not actively pursue the southbound 2019 Acura TLX being driven recklessly along the two-lane state highway by Warren Demetrick Stallworth, 39, of Monroeville.
Sheriff Heath Jackson said in a press release that Stallworth, who died in a multi-vehicle crash around 5:45 p.m., was driving erratically and at a high rate of speed when he forced an unmarked Escambia County Sheriff’s Office pickup, occupied by a criminal investigator, off the road.
The Monroeville man, who reportedly also ran several other drivers off the road as he traveled southward, never even slowed down, the sheriff said, relating that Stallworth’s vehicle continued along the highway at speeds in excess of 100 mph.
The ECSO investigator, after having regained the roadway, activated his blue lights but was unable to immediately gain any ground on the suspect and aborted the pointless pursuit before it even got started.
“It is not known if the driver of the Acura knew that law enforcement was behind him,” said the sheriff.
The ECSO investigator notified Atmore police that Stallworth might be headed into the city, and APD units raced north on Main Street (Ala. 21) to intercept the fleeing suspect. As the Acura neared Holman Correctional Facility, though, Stallworth tried to pass another vehicle and “collided head-on” with a 2019 Ford F-150 driven by Spencer Rogers, 36, of Atmore.
“A few miles down the road (from the point where he had been forced off 21 by Stallworth), near Ross Road, the investigator came upon a crash that involved the 2019 Acura and numerous other vehicles,” the sheriff said.
“There was no chase,” Piggott said. “We are not investigating it as a pursuit. Basically, the Acura comes up on a pickup, passes it, and hits the F-150 head-on.”
Also involved in the crash were a 2015 Chevrolet Impala driven by Sherry Ann Dale, 60, of Frisco City and a 2008 Dodge Ram driven by Sharon Banks, 53, of Monroeville.
Rogers, Dale, Banks and two other people were taken to University Hospital in Mobile for treatment of their injuries. Stallworth, who was not using a seat belt, was ejected from his vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene.
“A lot of people were hurt,” Piggott said. “I understand there was everything from walking wounded to some pretty serious injuries.”
The violent collision led to closure of the state highway for several hours.
Sheila Rodgers, a resident of Monroeville, was among the dozens of motorists who came upon the carnage as they drove along Alabama 21, where debris was reportedly scattered along the roadside for more than a hundred yards from the point of initial impact. Rodgers said in a comment to an Atmore News Facebook posting of the wreck that traffic was still being diverted around the crash site as late as 9 p.m.
“I attempted to drive from Atmore north on 21 about 9 o’clock,” Rodgers wrote. “(The highway) was closed at the interstate, (and) we had to detour south on I-65, turn around at Jack Springs Road and go north to the Brewton exit, then to Repton to get to Monroeville. I had no clue what was going on. The officer simply told me to get on the interstate and use my GPS from there.”
Troopers were continuing their investigation as midweek neared, and no other details were immediately available.