Deputies: Tenn. grandmother leads officers on chase with 2-year-old in car

Tracey Dykes (Courtesy: WATE via Sevier County Sheriff's Office)

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A Sevierville grandmother was taken into custody on Sunday after deputies say she led them on a pursuit with her 2-year-old granddaughter inside the car.

According to an arrest report, officers had been directing traffic at a crash scene on Jones Cove Road near Meadlowlark Cove Road when Tracey Dykes, 51, drove up. Officers noticed the child was sitting in a child safety seat in the front passenger seat, unrestrained.

They tried to get Dykes to pull over so officers could inspect the safety seat and move it to the back seat where it belonged. As officers began approaching Dykes’ vehicle, the report says she drove off at a high rate of speed.

Officers pursued her at speeds eventually exceeding 70 miles per hour. Officers said they maintained a safe distance because they knew the 2-year-old was inside, improperly restrained. The arrest report says Dykes was weaving across the double yellow line, moving into oncoming traffic and nearly hitting vehicles going the opposite direction.

After going around two miles, officers say Dykes began slowing down. She came to an abrupt stop on Jones Cove Road at CP Howard Drive. Dykes opened the door and officers removed her at gunpoint. She was then taken into custody.

Officers put the child in the backseat while they conducted a records check and discovered Dykes’ license had been suspended since November 2016 due to failure to pay a fine in Cocke County. She was also wanted in Cocke County for violation of probation on a possession of drug paraphernalia charge. A search of her vehicle turned up no proof of insurance, but it did turn up a used syringe needle stored in a purse that was just below where the child has been seated.

Dykes told officers she was the child’s maternal grandmother and she had been give permission to see her granddaughter by the child’s father. She said she didn’t put the child in the back seat because one of the seat belts was broken. She also said she ran from officers because she thought they would take the child away from her because of “horrible things she has read about police officers on the internet,” according to the report.

She denied being under the influence of any drugs and said the needle belonged to someone else who had been in the vehicle earlier.

When the child’s father arrived to pick her up, he said he didn’t know Dykes’ license had been revoked and that he had let her see the child because the child is forbidden to be around her mother due to drug use. He also said Dykes had a previous drug problem.

Dykes now faces a laundry list of charges including failure to obey police officers, violation of child passenger restraint, evading arrest by motor vehicle, reckless endangerment by motor vehicle, aggravated child endangerment, driving while license revoked, failure to comply with financial responsibility, speeding, reckless driving, possession of drug paraphernalia, and violation of probation.