By Joel McNeese, Calhoun County Journal, Rita Howell, The Panolian, and Jack Gurner, North Mississippi Herald
An 18-year-old foster child led authorities on a high speed chase that ultimately ended in Calhoun County Thursday morning after she lost control of the stolen car she was driving on Hwy. 9 just south of Pittsboro.
Ariel Collins was taken into custody around 10:35 a.m. after spinning to a stop off the east side of Hwy. 9 with nearly a dozen law enforcement vehicles from three counties in pursuit. Collins was driving a car owned by the South Panola School District. Her foster father, who drives a bus for South Panola schools, had used the car to drive from the district bus shop to the location where the bus was parked at Adoniah Church in Panola County on Highway 315.
Panola County Deputy Sheriff Barry Thompson said Collins reportedly walked about a mile and a half from her home to the car and left in it. Thompson said the foster father notified authorities when he discovered the car was missing. Thompson said the church had been burglarized and items taken from the church were later found in Collins’ bag inside the car.
Collins had eluded Panola County deputies and gone to Water Valley, but fled after Yalobusha authorities caught up with her. The chase continued south into Coffeeville, Pine Valley and then into Calhoun with Coffeeville Police Chief Mark Martin and Yalobusha Sheriff’s Department joining the chase along the way.
Yalobusha County Sheriff Lance Humphreys was radioing from his car trying to locate spike strips to disable the vehicle. He also was relaying information through the Yalobusha Sheriff’s Department dispatcher to the other law enforcement agencies. As the chase entered Calhoun, he had the dispatcher contact the Highway Patrol Troop G office in Starkville.
Calhoun S.O. and Bruce Police soon joined in as she approached Bruce. “I don’t know how she was staying on the road she was driving so fast,” Bruce Police Chief Stan Evans said.
Several of the officers said she exceeded 100 miles per hour numerous times during the chase. Authorities worked to clear the roads in her path to keep anyone from being hurt. “I was really worried when she started approaching the square in Pittsboro,” Calhoun Deputy Dewyane Winter said.
Officers from Calhoun City, Derma and the Mississippi Highway Patrol were all converging as well when she ultimately lost control in a curve halfway between Calhoun Academy road and Calhoun City. The vehicle spun to a stop with no collision and she was peacebly removed from the car and placed under arrest in a Panola County Sheriff’s Department truck.
“It was just amazing nobody got hurt,” Sheriff Billy Mac Gore said. “All the officers did a good job of giving her the space while trying to protect other drivers on the road.”
Collins is being held in the Panola County Detention Center. She is charged with burglary and grand larceny. Charges of felony fleeing are expected to be filed by the trio of county sheriff’s departments.