The Tennessee Highway Patrol has released the name of a woman killed after a police chase ended in Rhea County on Friday, April 2.
Law enforcement officials announced that 36-year-old Dewleen Self of McCaysville, Ga., drowned after she became stuck in a vehicle that entered the Tennessee River near Blythes Ferry Road on Friday, April 2.
Officials said that Self was a passenger in the vehicle and that deputies with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office [HCSO] were pursuing the vehicle.
On April 2 at approximately 1:16 a.m., Hamilton County sheriff’s deputies were involved in a vehicle pursuit that started on Highway 60. The pursuit was initiated after observing the suspect vehicle driving erratically leading an HCSO deputy to believe the driver was intoxicated.
After an HCSO deputy observed a blue Chevy driving erratically, the deputy attempted to initiate a traffic stop in the 7000 Block of Highway 60. The suspect vehicle then fled and the deputy initiated a pursuit.
During the pursuit, the suspect vehicle traveled towards Rhea County and entered a boat ramp on Blythe Ferry Road. Preliminary information shows at the boat ramp the suspect vehicle turned around, came back towards the HCSO deputy, and then passed the deputy. The suspect vehicle then veered into the river off the side of the boat ramp causing the vehicle to flip upside down and become fully submerged in the river.
The suspect driver was taken into custody and notified deputies there was a passenger in the vehicle. HCSO deputies, along with deputies from the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office and Rhea County Sheriff’s Department, immediately initiated rescue efforts by entering freezing waters but were forced to exit due to frigid temperatures.
Rhea County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Cody Massey said that upon his arrival at the boat ramp, he saw the vehicle in the water as well as “a male subject swimming towards the bank and a deputy swimming toward the car.
“I assisted the male subject, who was the driver of the vehicle, out of the water and restrained him,” Massey said. “The male subject stated that his girlfriend was a passenger in the vehicle and she was still inside the car.”
Massey said that he then tried to assist the other deputies in removing Self from the vehicle.
“I then assisted other deputies in trying to locate the female inside the vehicle, but due to the depths that the vehicle had sunk to and the water clarity, we were unable to locate anyone inside,” Massey said.
Once the vehicle was recovered, the passenger was located inside the vehicle deceased.
The suspect driver, Daniel Peak, 38, was taken into custody by HCSO deputies and was booked into the Hamilton County Jail on charges relative to traffic violations from the pursuit and narcotics violations.
The following items were recovered from the suspect vehicle:
• Bags containing marijuana and crystal methamphetamine;
• Multiple syringes; and
• Tools consistent with auto burglaries and catalytic converter thefts.