Johnson City police identify suspect accused of DUI after reportedly driving wrong way on I-26

Ryan Presnell (Source: Washington County Sheriff's Office)

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – Officials with the Johnson City Police Department said one person is in custody after attempting to elude police during a traffic stop Sunday afternoon. The suspect has been identified as 32-year-old Ryan Presnell, of Johnson City.

Officers arrested Presnell Monday afternoon after he was discharged from the hospital for medical care.

He’s charged with 11 counts reckless endangerment, possession of unlawful drug paraphernalia, simple possession of methamphetamine, 2 counts of vandalism under $1000, vandalism over $10,000, burglary, evading arrest, driving under the influence, and leaving the scene of an accident.

Ryan Presnell (Source: Washington County Sheriff's Office)
Ryan Presnell (Source: Washington County Sheriff’s Office)

Captain Brian Rice with the Johnson City Police Department said they received several calls Sunday morning about a reckless driver in the area of Seminole Drive.

Police said that same driver was also seen recklessly driving through a church (Grace Fellowship Church) parking lot on Greenwood Drive in Johnson City and trying to ram an ATM at Knoxville TVA Credit Union on N. Roan St.

When officers caught up to the driver and tried to pull them over, Captain Rice said that driver tried to get away, driving the wrong way on Interstate 26.

Police said Presnell continued to ignore emergency lights and sirens, crossed the median and began traveling east in the westbound lanes of traffic.

Police reported he drove at a” high rate of speed nearly striking several vehicles and forcing others to swerve off” the road.


“The driver of the vehicle chose recklessly and feloniously to travel east in the westbound lane of I-26, in doing so endangered many many lives of citizens here in Johnson City,” Captain Rice said.

According to police, the driver crossed back into the eastbound lanes and crashed through a fence on East 11th Avenue.

Police said he drove through the backyards of several homes and eventually crashed into a barn on Silverdale Drive. But when police arrived at the barn Presnell was not in the vehicle.

Police said they eventually found him walking on East Oakland Avenue near Brook Lane.

“It was 57 minutes from the time the first call came out, to the time he was placed into custody, so almost an hour that this maniac was wreaking havoc on the citizens of Johnson City,” Captain Rice said.

Police told News Channel 11 on Monday morning, the damage is estimated at $15,000. Police add that amount could increase as more people call in.

Presnell was transported to the Washington County Detention Center where he is currently being held on a  $146,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear in General Sessions court on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.

Stay with News Channel 11 as we continue to follow this developing story.

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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