UPDATE: Man who led authorities on interstate chase in midstate ID’d

Bibb County deputies have a man in custody who led authorities on a 20-minute chase from downtown Macon to Dry Branch this morning, driving part of the way in oncoming traffic on Interstate 16.

Benjamin Colby Smith, 32, formerly of Russellville, Tenn., failed to yield the right of way when exiting a parking lot at about 10:20 a.m. and was struck by a white Nissan Maxima at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Hazel Street, said Lt. George Meadows, sheriff’s office spokesman.

Smith, driving a GMC Jimmy, then struck a sheriff’s office car driven by investigator Paul Edwards, Meadows said.

Macon police Sgt. Melanie Hofmann said a police lieutenant also was in the car, accompanying Edwards to serve a warrant.

A woman got out of Smith’s car after the crash, Meadows said. The police lieutenant also got out of the sheriff’s office car at the scene.

For an unknown reason, Smith drove off and Edwards started a chase that would ultimately last 20 minutes.

Authorities chased the SUV, with a Tennessee license plate, past Cherry and Mulberry streets and onto Interstate 16, according to traffic on the police scanner.

The SUV turned off the interstate at Ocmulgee East Boulevard and headed toward Twiggs County. Bibb deputies asked Twiggs County to set up spike strips on the road but warned that “he might ram them,” according to scanner traffic.

At one point, the SUV was traveling at 70 mph, according to scanner traffic.

Smith got out of the car at Dolly Lane in Twiggs County and a Twiggs County deputy chased him on foot through several residential yards with the help of a Bibb County search dog, Meadows said.

Meadows said deputies are trying to determine why Smith left the initial accident scene and led deputies on the chase.

He’s not wanted for any crime, Meadows said.

Smith is being held on traffic charges and fleeing and eluding deputies, Meadows said.

Hofmann said the driver and passenger from the initial crash complained of injuries and were taken to a local hospital. The police lieutenant also has complained of injuries.

Come back to macon.com for more information on this developing story.

Telegraph photographer Grant Blankenship contributed information to this report.