MARIANNA, Ark. – A Mississippi couple is dead after the SUV they were traveling in was hit by a suspect, who just moments earlier, had been fleeing police.
The crash happened shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday on Highway 1 in Marianna, Arkansas.
A source identified the victims as Robby and Martha Taylor of Coahoma County, Mississippi, although Arkansas State Police say they still haven’t positively identified them.
Marianna Police Chief Daniel Strickland confirms that an officer attempted to pull over Deontay Smith for playing loud music at 8:23 p.m.
When the pursuit reached dangerous speeds and Smith refused to pull over, Strickland said the chase was called off. He said the crash happened shortly after that.
WREG is told Smith’s Dodge Charger hit the Chevy Yukon the Taylors were in at 8:51 p.m. and sent it into a tree where it burst into flames, killing both of them.
“We could hear the tires squealing in the highway and then we hear the boom,” said Michael Walton, who owns the property where the crash happened.
“We heard something that sounded kind of like freight train coming through,” said Tracy Walton.
The Waltons say they and their son tried to save the couple but couldn’t.
“He ran up here, tries to get the water hose. By the time I got to that light pole, then boom. The truck just blowed up,” said Michael Walton.
“It was heart-breaking because we couldn’t do anything to help. We tried to help, you know, but we couldn’t do anything. It was just – all we could do was just stand there and watch,” said Tracy Walton.
Arkansas State Police said that once their investigation is complete, a copy of their report will be forwarded to Lee County prosecutors who will decide if criminal charges will be filed.