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Stolen van recovered after high-speed chase

CHAMBERS — A man was arrested by Sheriff’s deputies Saturday morning after being chased by three different area law enforcement officers.

Clayton Boyd Roberts, 31, of Alabama, was charged with first degree assault, first degree theft of property, attempting to elude and reckless endangerment.

The inciting incident started around 10:15 a.m. Saturday morning. According to Chief Deputy Richard Carter, Roberts was walking down County Road 267 in Lanett when he came upon a WOW! Internet van that was parked outside its owners residence.

The keys were still in the vehicle, so Roberts was able to quickly start the engine and drive away. The victim heard the van start and followed it in another vehicle while at the same time alerting police dispatch to what had happened.

The first officer to pursue Roberts was Major Tommy Sims with Chambers County Sheriff’s Department who was off duty but lived nearby. As he was following Roberts in an unmarked vehicle, fellow Sheriff’s Department officer, Sergeant Shannon Frailey caught up in a patrol car and took primary position behind the van.

“[Roberts] was driving at excessive speeds, slipping and sliding because of the muddy roads,” Carter said. “He had no regard for the welfare of anybody else.”

By the time the van turned down County Road 289, Lanett and West Point police had been alerted to the situation. They had set up roadblocks and spike strips, but to no avail.

Roberts took police down County Road 211 which cuts through 289 over to 212, commonly known as State Line Road. It was at this time that Sgt. Frailey was able to get in front of the van while Maj. Sims followed close behind. Roberts used the van to ram into the patrol vehicle several times which, according to Carter, was in an attempt to knock them off the road.

“During the whole chase, this vehicle was in both lanes and he’d run one or two vehicles off the road, so [the officers’] main concern was to get it stopped before anybody got hurt,” Carter added.

The chase ended when Roberts attempted to overtake Frailey unsuccessfully, running into a telephone pole and coming to a halt.

Although it was a high-speed chase spanning multiple roads, no one involved was injured, including Roberts who was taken to the emergency room before being put in the Chambers County Jail.

“It really could have been tragic,” Carter said. “Thankfully it was on a Saturday morning where there wasn’t a lot of traffic and the weather was keeping people in. It could have been a whole lot worse but these guys did a great job of getting him stopped and getting him off the road.”