Authorities have arrested a man suspected of leading them on a chase through three counties that included four stolen vehicles, the last of which was driven into the Tennessee River.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports, the incident began around noon on Saturday when Rhea County deputies responded to a report of suspicious activity.
Authorities responded to a burglary call after Kendall Speegle Jr. reportedly stole multiple cars. Arriving at the scene, they saw a white Chevrolet pickup truck drive through a closed garage door.
Deputies chased the vehicle through parts of two other counties before it was abandoned. Speegle fled on foot, stealing and abandoning two other vehicles before he stole a Chevrolet Cruze and drove it into the Tennessee River.
It all started in Rhea County at a home off Bob Long Road near Highway 60, where Speegle allegedly stole the first car. He then fled into Meigs County where he later allegedly stole three vehicles.
“There’s no way I’d ever be brave enough to try and cross this river,” Chief Deputy Brian Malone said he has never seen someone flee authorities like Speegle did on Saturday.
Speegle made his way from stolen vehicles to on-foot pursuits and car chases that ended in the river.
“It was at the very end here. We were actually pursuing him down River Road. He turned in here into Eaves Ferry Bluff into the boat ramp and then he just drove his car out into the water here,” said Malone.
According to officials, Speegle has a lengthy criminal history, including multiple thefts and burglary. He is now facing a long list of new charges, including aggravated burglary and theft over $10,000.
All three counties searched the Tennessee River Saturday afternoon to find the sunken Chevy Cruze Speegle last took out.
“Throughout the chase and pursuit, it was reported that he was armed with a weapon so that’s another thing we’re trying to recover, too,” Malone said.
Officers believe he had a long rifle on him after a homeowner said he was carrying the firearm near the woods.
After Speegle drove into the river, Chief Deputy Malone said he got out and swam nearly a quarter mile to the other side where they took him into custody.
“This was a guy that was very dangerous to the public you know, we were intent on getting him into custody before he could do any damage to the citizens or hurt any of the citizens here,” said Malone.
Authorities said no one was hurt and now the next step is searching the cars Speegle stole, including the one from the river, to see if he stole anything else and to find that firearm.
Speegle is currently held in Rhea County, but authorities said he could be facing charges from all three counties.