Funny, Funny Stories From my days at Eden, P.D.

By Michael D. Martin, E.C.P.D. Retired

About the author...Michael Martin (pictured front row, far right in the 1981 photo) is a retired veteran of 25 years on the Eden City Police Department, and has penned a number of anecdotal writings recalling his experiences.

XXII. The Beck Road Wreck

     This was a cold winter night in 1968. I was Sergeant of  A shift and we were in the midst of a small winter storm and it got dark early. This must have been just after dark around seven or eight o'clock when Eden PD got a call of a stolen car, the caller said he had just stopped off at a store on Hamilton Street and ran in to get a pack of smokes, he had left his car running and when he came out of the store, he saw his car pulling off the lot. His car was a gold '66 Plymouth and it had gone in the direction of the Garrett Road. Officer Dwight Denny was very close and gave chase but those Chevrolets were no match for a 383 Plymouth and the stolen car pulled steadily away. Part way up the Garrett Road, Dwight knew he was way out of the city and gave up the chase. 

     We all rushed to the area, hopeful of spotting the stolen car and searched the area. after a while, officer Denny stood by near Dyer's and Fat Vestal stood by near 87 North. Buddy Moretz at that time was working construction and still held a position as a reserve officer and was riding with me. Officer Ronald Brown was to scout the price road and Bud and I were going to scout up the Garrett Road in hopes of jumping the stolen car and running it into a trap. Bud and I were way up the Garrett Road when we met the gold Plymouth running at a high rate of speed, headed back towards town. I spun my old Chevrolet around and did the best I could to stay up with him, Bud got on the radio and told the other cars where we were and which way we were headed. 

     We came back down Garrett Road until we neared the Beck Road, back then the Beck road was a gravel road from the Garrett Road to the Price Road and there was a small one lane bridge in the middle. Officer Ronald Brown was very close to the Price Road end of the Beck Road and he turned onto the Beck Road when he heard we were chasing the stolen car on the Garrett Road. When our suspect turned onto the Beck Road, wide open, we called it and Ronnie responded that he was on the Beck Road he pulled his cruiser right in the middle of the one lane bridge and blocked the road completely and darkened all his lights. He intended to pull on all his lights when he saw the stolen car come over the hill and the suspect would have absolutely no chance to turn off. When the suspect locked up his brakes and turned onto the Beck Road, I saw his tail lights, then they disappeared, I thought he had simply dropped down the hill, I could not tell that the suspect had also turned off his lights....Ronnie was sitting in the middle of the bridge, waiting for headlights......and there were none. 

     The stolen car plowed into the police cruiser at full speed pitch black dark.  When Bud and I got there a second or two later, the cruiser had been knocked completely off the bridge and there was no sign of most of the stolen car. I slowed down just a little and yelled "Ronnie, are you all right?? luckily he had been wearing his seat belt and was only banged up...I can not print his answer....but we assumed he was not going to die in the next few minutes, and there was a chase on.  We followed a trail of Plymouth parts up the road, bumpers, headlights, grille pieces. chunks of tires, hubcaps....I told Bud "the fella that owns this car, he aint gonna like this real good!!

     When I got to the price Road, I turned right and headed for the country because I did not figure our boy was going to head into town with half a car. We had gone a mile when another car joined the chase and flashed his lights at me, we did not see our suspect, so we stopped and a motorist ran up and asked " are you guys chasing half a gold car" I admitted we were and he said.."
.when he got to the Price Road, he went straight across the road and down into the field!" Bud and I went back and saw tire impressions in the snow and a broken fence, the guy could not steer the car and jumped half the fence and plowed about three hundred yards down into a creek. The occupants had jumped and ran.
     Since we had destroyed a cruiser, we had to wake Chief M.O. Clark out in the wee hours to see what we had accomplished. Ronnie was all right and Patrolman James Parker and Mo Varner of the Highway Patrol  were there, Me, Bud Moretz, Ronnie Brown, Fat Vestal and Chief Mo Clark were all standing in the intersection of the Beck Road and the Price Road at four AM discussing matters when we heard the unmistakable sound of a Ford wound up tight, as we stood there a 1958 Ford came past us sucking the side ditches together.......The driver was still looking back at this august group of lawmen when he left the road and plowed into a pine tree, which did not move much.  We all ran down the road to the wreck to find four fellas in the car, two under the dash and two under the front seat. The engine of the ford was where the dash should have been and the front fenders almost met each other on the other side of the tree. As I approached, I heard a fella in the back say "Kenny....Kenny, dammit you ain't driving my car no more!"

Michael D. Martin

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