A distracted driver faces felony charges after reportedly leading deputies on a chase through Maryville on Wednesday.
A Blount County Sheriff’s deputy on patrol spotted a blue 1991 Chevrolet S-10 driving on Merritt Road around 5:38 p.m.
The driver, 25-year-old Garland Eli Steele, was texting while he was driving, according to reports.
When the officer turned on his lights, Steele turned on to Green Hill Road while appearing to prepare to stop, then accelerated toward Sheffield Road.
The deputy pursued Steele down several streets onto Sevierville Road, where another deputy stopped a patrol vehicle in traffic to prevent cars behind that vehicle from getting hit during the chase.
Steele reportedly merged onto the oncoming traffic lane and appeared to drive toward the patrol unit before the deputy moved to avoid being hit.
Several units chased Steele through a mall parking lot at Sevierville and South Everett roads and down several other streets before approaching the Alcoa Tennessee Credit Union, where several people in the parking lot and a yellow vehicle swerved to avoid being hit by the S-10.
The truck continued onto North Hall Road and several streets before pulling up to Atchley Apartments, where reports show he stopped the car and put his hands up.
Steele told deputies he was wanted for violating probation on an earlier evading arrest case and wanted to give his money to his girlfriend.
He also wanted to kiss her before going to jail, according to reports.
Deputies found a small marijuana container in a speaker and several marijuana butts in a cigarette packet.
Steele was charged with aggravated assault, felony evading and felony reckless endangerment.
He remained in jail Friday on $13,200 in combined bonds pending hearings at 9 a.m. June 26 and 28 in Blount County General Sessions Court.