FORT SMITH, Ark. — The driver involved in a 20-mile police pursuit has died and an Arkansas State Police trooper was injured in the crash.
34-year-old Justin Battenfield’s vehicle left the roadway in the 7200 block of Arkansas Highway 255 in Fort Smith Friday morning at approximately 7:00 a.m. when the trooper used his squad car for a “precision immobilization technique” to stop Battenfield’s vehicle. The maneuver, police say, damaged the trooper’s patrol car and Battenfield’s vehicle left the roadway and overturned.
Law enforcement says that at around 6:30 a.m., an officer of the U.S. Forest Service initiated a pursuit of a southbound vehicle on U.S.-71. The officer alleges Battenfield’s vehicle failed to stop for a traffic signal and passed through the intersection along the shoulder of the highway.
When a Sebastian County sheriff’s deputy joined the pursuit, law enforcement says that Battenfield turned around and started traveling northbound on U.S.-71. Arkansas State Police troopers took the lead on the pursuit somewhere north of Witcherville.
As Battenfield fled federal, state, and county law enforcement officers, police say that the suspect turned his vehicle eastbound onto Arkansas Highway 255. At that time, Battenfield encountered the trooper’s patrol car and the wreck transpired. Police did not indicate if Battenfield died at the scene or at a nearby hospital.
The trooper involved in the accident has been hospitalized in Little Rock with non-life threatening injuries.
Special agents of the highway patrol division and criminal investigation division are continuing their investigation.