Accident nets fugitiveWashington mother, daughter in other car report no injuries
A traffic accident can be scary enough as it is, but it becomes even more so when it turns out the driver of the other vehicle is a wanted fugitive from another state.
According to the police log, a two-vehicle accident was reported Tuesday morning at East Washington Street and South Fourth Avenue, about half a block from the Washington Police Station. Wesley Andrew Jones, 31, of Red Bay, Ala., was one of the drivers. He was found to be wanted on an Alabama warrant for first-degree escape on an original charge of dangerous drugs. He is also facing local charges of failure to yield at a stoplight ant no insurance.
“I think he might have walked away from a drug rehab facility,” Washington Police Chief Greg Goodman said. “His original charge was a drug violation.”
Goodman believes, but he is not sure, that Alabama officials have decided to extradite Jones. He is being held without bond. He believes some of the Washington charges will be pursued for insurance reasons.
Reports say that at about 7:16 a.m. Tuesday, Jones ran a red light and struck a vehicle driven by Joan Renee Hippen of Washington.
Hippen said that she and her daughter Lindsay had been on their way to band rehearsal at Lincoln Elementary at the time of the accident. They were heading south on South Fourth Avenue. They were waiting at the light. When the light turned green, Hippen proceeded through the intersection.
“The last thing I know is my daughter screamed ‘Mom, he’s going to hit us!’” Hippen said. “And he hit us.”
Hippen said she did not recall even seeing the car there. She said Jones was heading east on Washington Street at the time of the accident. He was making a right turn onto South Fourth. Hippen said that he hit her car on the front passenger side. After the accident, she saw the dent in his driver’s side door where her car had impacted.
No injuries were reported Hippen said that Lindsay has some muscle spasms in her neck, but X-rays showed no injuries.
“I knew there was damage because I heard the impact,” Hippen said. “My daughter remembers me putting my hand on her and asking if she was OK. We were able to get out of the car fine. She was very upset because the car hit on her side.”
Hippen said the car was drivable after the accident. She is getting a repair estimate.
Goodman said that Officer Lyle Hansen responded to the scene. The vehicle Jones was driving came back to Jones’ brother, who lives in Iowa City. Hippen said that the vehicle had a Johnson County license plate. Goodman said Jones was claiming to be his brother. Information being given to Hansen wasn’t checking out. Finally, Goodman said, Jones revealed who he was. The escape warrant came up quickly.
Goodman said that Jones had been living in town briefly and trying to lay low, until the accident occurred.
In Alabama, first-degree escape is a Class B felony, punishable by two to 20 years in prison. Alabama defines first-degree escape as someone who uses a weapon, physical force or the threat of physical force to escape custody or someone who escapes after being convicted of a felony.
“I’m thankful that she (Lindsay) is OK and she heals up and there are no long term effects for her, all is good,” Hippen said. “A car can be fixed.”