Tesla driver arrested for ramming deputy's car

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VALDOSTA — A Florida man is behind bars after ramming a Tesla electric car into a Lowndes County deputy’s vehicle Thursday.

At 9:10 a.m., a sheriff's deputy with the Interstate Criminal Enforcement Team tried to stop a Tesla on Interstate 75 for doing 113 miles per hour in a 70-mph zone, according to a Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office statement.

The Tesla hit 140 mph and deputies chased the car.

Deputies used “stop sticks,” designed to flatten tires, to try to stop the car at Exit 22 but the Tesla did not stop; even with one tire deflated, the chase continued to Exit 29 at Hahira, according to the statement.

Once the Tesla’s driver pulled off at Hahira, he went into a gas station parking lot and drove circles around the store and next-door hotel, the sheriff’s office said.

While in the parking lot, the driver put the Tesla in reverse and rammed a deputy’s car in the driver side door.

Another deputy used his car to stop the pursuit, the statement said.

The driver of the Tesla — described as a 27-year-old Tampa, Fla., man — was arrested. A search of the car turned up a small amount of methamphetamine and a large amount of illegal testosterone, the sheriff’s office said.

The driver is charged with felony aggravated assault against a peace officer, felony driving/fleeing attempting to elude, felony VGCSA possession of Schedule II controlled substance, VGCSA possession of a methamphetamine, misdemeanor speeding, misdemeanor altered tag, misdemeanor seatbelt, misdemeanor window-tint violation and misdemeanor driving with a suspended license, the statement said.

While two patrol cars were damaged, no one was injured.

Terry Richards is senior reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times.

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