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Local man dies after police pursuit

A Farmington man is dead after a police pursuit.

According to the Rolla Police Department, at approximately 1:21 a.m. Tuesday, a Rolla Police officer who was on routine patrol witnessed a silver Dodge Stratus driving erratically through the roundabout located at Kingshighway and Interstate 44/Martin Springs Drive.

The vehicle was traveling at a speed too fast to negotiate the roundabout, which caused the tires on the suspect vehicle to skid and squeal. The vehicle exited the roundabout and began traveling at a high rate of speed westbound on Martin Springs Drive. The Rolla officer activated his lights and sirens in attempt to initiate a traffic stop on the vehicle. The suspect continued to accelerate, began weaving badly, and ultimately did not stop for the officer.

A pursuit was initiated due to the belief that the driver was intoxicated. The driver of the suspect vehicle lost control, left the roadway, went airborne, and wrecked near Martin Springs Drive and County Road 7000 in a small creek ditch.

The Rolla officer requested that the fire department and ambulance respond because the suspect was trapped inside the vehicle, was unconscious, but breathing, and suffered blunt force trauma to the chest from the steering wheel upon impact. He was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident.

The suspect had to be extricated from the wreckage by the Rolla Rural Fire Department and Doolittle Fire Department. He was then transported by the Phelps County Ambulance. He was subsequently flown by Phelps Air Helicopter to the University Medical Center in Columbia where he later succumbed to his injuries. The deceased was identified as John A. Atkinson, 39, of Farmington.

Upon further investigation it was revealed that Atkinson was in possession of suspected meth, and had an active warrant for his arrest from the United States Marshal’s Service for escape. Further it is believed that Atkinson was intoxicated at the time of the accident. Toxicology reports are pending from the Phelps County Coroner. Next of kin have been notified.

Assisting the Rolla Police Department with this investigation was the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Phelps County Sheriff’s Department, Phelps County Ambulance, Rolla Rural Fire Department, Doolittle Fire Department, and Phelps County Coroner.

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