Williamsburg police are searching for a local man, who allegedly struck two vehicles and drove into a bank before fleeing the scene on foot Monday morning.
Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird said that Edward D. Smith, 22, of Rice Street, is facing 10 first-degree wanton endangerment charges and leaving the scene of an accident charges in connection to the incidents that occurred shortly after 11 a.m. Monday.
About 11:12 a.m., Williamsburg police were notified about a traffic accident involving First State Financial Bank, which is located along US25 near the post office.
Bird said that a lot of the details were initially unclear because the bank employees were pretty shaken up. Through the investigation, police learned that Smith was driving a black Dodge Avenger south on US25 with a 16-year-old male passenger and a small dog when he allegedly rear-ended a 2001 Jeep at the bottom of Cliff End Hill, which is a short distance from the bank, and fled the scene.
“He was fleeing that scene with the juvenile begging him to stop. As he was fleeing at a high rate of speed, he struck a 2013 Kia, which was travelling north on US25 making a turn into the bank,” Bird said Monday afternoon.
“He strikes her, veers off her vehicle and drives straight through the doors of First State Financial. Just prior to our getting there, he fled on foot and is still at large. He hasn’t been apprehended at this point.”
After the crash, Smith allegedly fled down Rains Street, which is near his home on Rice Street.
Bird said authorities have visited there a few times since the accident, but haven’t been able locate Smith yet.
Bird said that Smith is facing wanton endangerment charges in connection to the woman, who was driving the white Kia Forte, the juvenile in his own vehicle, and all the people inside the bank at the time of the accident.
“First State Financial is kind of a small bank and there were several employees, who were sitting within feet of where that vehicle entered the building,” Bird noted.
Bird said that he is not aware of anyone who was injured during the incidents or required transportation to a medical facility for treatment.
Everyone was able to exit the vehicles under their own power.
Bird said that the damage during the first hit and run at the bottom of Cliff End Hill involving the Jeep was minor, but the damage to the white Kia in front of the bank was substantial.
“She was lucky she came out uninjured. At that point he was moving at a high rate of speed. It was almost a head-on crash with her,” Bird said about the driver of the Kia. “The bank has significant damage. The bank employees were real lucky. Thank God there were no customers going out the door at the time he was going in.”
Bird said there was apparently one uninjured customer in the bank, who was at the teller counter, when the vehicle struck the building.
Bird said that authorities don’t know why Smith fled the scene.
“We don’t know if he was under the influence or what caused him to panic. After he hit that first vehicle, the juvenile said he just panicked and took off at a high rate of speed,” Bird said. “The juvenile begged him several times to stop but he refused to stop.”
Bird said that the bank probably sustained thousands of dollars worth of damage.
Marvin Baker, a senior vice-president at First State Financial Bank of the Southeast, who has been working at that location for two years, said he is just grateful that no one was hurt during the incident.
“I heard the initial bang outside and then the big one. I ran out and saw the guy trying to get out of the car. They said there were fine, but one guy, I guess he panicked and ran off,” Baker said. “Luckily there were no customers coming out or anything like that. Everybody was fine.”
If anyone has any information about Smith’s whereabouts, they are asked to contact the Williamsburg Police Department through the non-emergency number for Whitley County E-911 at 549-6017.
“They can remain anonymous, give us that information and we will go pick him up,” Bird added.
Williamsburg Police Detective Bobby Freeman is investigating the first crash, and Assistant Chief Jason Caddell is investigating the crash with the Kia and the bank crash.
Williamsburg Fire and Rescue assisted at the scene.