BLOWING ROCK — A June 17 vehicle pursuit that began in Blowing Rock weaved its way through Boone and Johnson County, Tenn., and ended in Ashe County, with the passenger being arrested and the driver still at large.

According to a Watauga County Sheriff’s Office shift report, a report was called in for financial card fraud, and that the caller advised the card was last used at Speedway in Blowing Rock. Blowing Rock Police Lt. Darin Church said the department received a be-on-the-lookout dispatch for a Chevrolet Venture van at 2:09 p.m., and minutes later an officer spotted the vehicle in the vicinity of the Blowing Rock Speedway traveling southbound.

When the Blowing Rock officer tried to initiate a traffic stop, Church said the van — allegedly driven by Skylar Branson, 23, of 818 W. Brushy Fork Road, Creston — then turned around and went back northbound on U.S. 321. The chase then began toward Boone, reaching speeds around 70 miles per hour at some points between Blowing Rock and Boone. Church said Blowing Rock officers attempted to use a spike strip, but the van traveled around the device.

Once the chase entered into Boone, Boone Police Department picked up the pursuit through Blowing Rock Road, N.C. 105 and the N.C. 105 Bypass. The van the traveled on U.S. 421 through Vilas, and was then pursued by the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office.

Johnson County (Tenn.) Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Clifton Worley said Johnson County deputies picked up the chase on U.S. 421 and ended their part of the pursuit once the van traveled into Ashe County. Worley said deputies stopped pursuing the vehicle due to the rainy weather and slick conditions of the roads, as the van was traveling in excess of 80 mph.

Ashe County Sheriff’s Office Detective Will Hicks said the department received a call from a Creston property owner who said they had seen a van drive by that matched the description of the one involved in the chase. The van was found at the end of a dirt path with no one around it, but with two sets of footprints leading away, according to Hicks. Branson and his passenger — Angelian Miller, 27, of 136 Ivy Drive, Boone — were found fleeing on foot about 500 yards away in a field. Miller was detained, but Hicks said due to weather conditions deputies were unable to apprehend Branson.

The WCSO shift report stated that the vehicle was going to be towed for seizure and inventory. The report also stated that Miller was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. Ashe County was not planning to pursue charges. Charges were pending in Blowing Rock, Johnson County and Watauga County in the incident.

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