By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
An Atmore Police Department patrol cruiser was briefly involved last Saturday, August 1, in a high-speed chase that started in Bay Minette, carried into Atmore, then ended when a Mobile County man lost control of the stolen vehicle he was driving and fatally crashed in Cantonment, Fla.
APD Chief Chuck Brooks said the city unit joined the chase but never drove at the top speeds Bay Minette police and a Baldwin County deputy reached as they raced, hot on the suspect’s tail, up U.S. 31 to its intersection with Alabama 21 (Main Street), then to Fla. 97 and onto U.S. 29 before he crashed, more than 50 miles from where the King-cab Chevrolet pickup was reportedly stolen.
“We got into the pursuit around Cindebran Drive,” Brooks reported. “One of our units followed behind (the Baldwin County lawmen), in a safe manner. They came up 31, went south on Main Street and into Florida. We turned our officer around when he got to the state line.”
According to a statement issued by Bay Minette police officials, the suspect — later identified by family members as 36-year-old John Henry McAdams of Wilmer — rammed his vehicle several times during the chase into the two Bay Minette PD cruisers that were closest to him. The final time proved his undoing.
The incident came to an end along U.S. 29 in Cantonment, near Companion Animal Clinic, when McAdams rammed a police car again and lost control of the pickup. Reports show that he entered the median and traveled off the roadway before slamming into a tree. Escambia County EMS personnel reportedly pronounced the suspect dead at the scene.
The fatal chase began at the Jet Pep store, located across from Coastal Alabama Community College’s Bay Minette campus. The truck’s owner and driver said he went into the store to make a quick purchase, leaving his keys inside the vehicle.
Reports show that a clerk alerted him that the truck was being driven away, and the owner called police to report the theft. A BMPD officer later spotted the stolen vehicle in a residential area and tried to pull it over. McAdams refused to stop, and the chase was on.
Florida Highway Patrol has taken over the crash investigation, and no further details were available by Tuesday’s press deadline.