Police: Driver was a wanted man, had crack cocaine at time of police pursuit and crash

Byron Harper (Source: LMDC)
Byron Harper (Source: LMDC)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Five people were rushed to the hospital after a police pursuit and crash in Newburg.

"It got up to 100 miles per hour," Kentucky State Police Master Trooper Norman Chaffins said.

Kentucky State Police say that's how fast the chase got at one point.

It all started just after 2:00 p.m. Monday when an officer was patrolling I-65 near the Watterson as part of "Click It or Ticket" enforcement.
That's when an officer says he noticed the driver of a black SUV was not wearing his seatbelt, so the officer went to pull him over.
"It appeared initially that he was going to pull over; however, he continued to pass vehicles in the emergency strip and our commercial vehicle officer followed in pursuit," Chaffins said.
The driver would then exit the interstate, darting in and out of traffic when his luck would run out.
"He proceeded down Watterson east and got off at Poplar Level south and then proceeded down this location and the light was red on their side," Chaffins explained.
Despite the red light, police say the driver had no intentions of stopping, instead slamming into a white SUV.
Three people were in that white SUV, turning left onto Indian Trail with the right of way when the black SUV barreled into it, spun around, and struck a telephone pole.
As police and paramedics rushed to the scene, they quickly learned why 34-year-old Byron Harper was trying so desperately to get away.
"We found out he is a wanted parolee," Chaffins said.
Police say he's been wanted since last December, but that's not all. They also believe what he had in the SUV may be another reason he was trying to flee.
"We also found some drugs and drug paraphernalia," Chaffins said.
More specifically:  crack cocaine. Harper went to the hospital and then straight to jail on a number of charges.
Police say his wife was also in the mangled SUV and went to the hospital in serious condition, and is also facing charges.
"She assaulted one of the EMS personnel when they tried to help her," Chaffins said.
The three people in the white SUV went to the hospital as well and are expected to be okay.

As for Harper, he's no stranger to the slammer:  his rap sheet includes numerous drugs and weapons charges.

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