The attorney for the Corbin doctor, who is charged with being under the influence when he led police on a high-speed pursuit that reached speeds of 140 mph Sunday night, said his client is maintaining his innocence in the case.
B.J. Foley is representing Dr. Keith A. Clifton, 64, who was charged with speeding – 26 mph or greater over the limit, reckless driving, first-degree fleeing or evading police, operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, possession of salvia, disregarding a stop sign, improper turning, disregarding a traffic control device, and illegal possession of a legend drug.
According to the website www.medicalnewstoday.com, salvia is a drug that produces hallucinations similar to LSD.
“Dr. Clifton maintains his innocence,” Foley said in the statement sent to The News Journal via email Tuesday. “Most importantly, he was not impaired by drugs or alcohol at the time of his arrest. In fact, he had just ended his shift at Baptist Health. Many witnesses that work alongside Dr. Clifton on a daily basis confirm he showed no signs of impairment moments before his arrest. It is irresponsible and a rush to judgment to suggest otherwise.”
Clifton was arrested following the pursuit that began on the Corbin bypass and continued to U.S. 25E, Ky. 1629, and Ky. 830, before ending when Clifton stopped on Briarwood Trace.
Trooper Drew Wilson stated in the arrest citation that he was on the Woodbine connector road at approximately 10:45 p.m. when he observed the 2018 BMW M4 traveling east on the Corbin bypass at a high rate of speed.
“Observation was confirmed by moving radar targeting the (BMW) 110 mph in a 55-mph zone,” Wilson stated in the arrest citation.
Wilson stated that as he attempted to catch up to the vehicle, speeds reached 115 mph and when he activated his lights and sirens the vehicle continued to flee.
At the intersection of the bypass and U.S. 25E, Wilson stated the BMW turned left toward Corbin, running the red light.
“I was still attempting to catch up to the vehicle and he was again targeted on moving radar at 140 mph coming down the hill into Corbin in a 45-mph zone,” Wilson stated adding that the driver turned right onto Ky. 1629 and continued toward Ky. 830 while continuing to accelerate.
“As we were going down Ky. 1629, he was still pulling away from me and was again targeted on moving radar at 140 mph on the two-lane road in a residential area,” Wilson stated adding the pursuit continued onto Oak Ridge Church Road at speeds over 100 mph.
After turning onto Marvel Road and then Briarwood Trace, continuing at speeds in excess of 100 mph, Wilson stated that the driver, later identified as Clifton, stopped near his residence, Police were able to order him out of the vehicle and take him into custody.
Clifton reportedly told police that he was a doctor at Baptist Health Corbin and was on his way home from work when he passed the state police cruiser and realized he was driving way over the speed limit.
However, when he saw the blue lights coming up behind him, he panicked and continued to flee.
Wilson stated that Clifton showed no indication of being impaired, but failed multiple field sobriety tests.
When troopers searched the vehicle, they reported locating a plastic container of, “Medicine Farm Botanicals Extra Strength Spectrum Cannibas Balm, Dragon’s Blend.”
According to Wilson it contains 95 percent THC, which is the ingredient in marijuana that is responsible for its psychological effects.
Clifton reported he had not been drinking nor was he under the influence of anything and his balance was bad due to a bad neck and the adrenaline from what had just occurred, reporting he was completely sober,” Wilson wrote in the arrest citation.
Troopers transported Clifton to Barbourville ARH to obtain a blood sample.
However, he refused to consent without first speaking with an attorney, and was unsuccessful in making contact a lawyer.
He was lodged in the Knox County Jail, but has since been released on a $2,500 surety bond in which he was required to post $250.
Clifton pleaded not guilty to the charges Monday in Knox District Court.
He is scheduled to return to court on Oct. 20 for a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is probable cause to present the case to a Knox County grand jury.
Debbie Hardin, a spokesperson for Baptist Health Corbin, said Clifton is not directly employed by the hospital, but works for Team Health, a company that provides emergency room doctors on a rotation basis.