Jefferson County Prosecutor David Sutter issued the following statement regarding the recent police pursuit fatalities:
“Following the recent police pursuit crash and the fatalities of local young adults, the Indiana State Police has been investigating the circumstances surrounding the crash to evaluate the actions taken by local law enforcement as well as those who fled from police. I will receive a report of their investigation and will make charging decisions at that time.
The initial investigation indicates our local law enforcement officers followed all protocols for this type of engagement with fleeing suspects in the interest of the safety of the public. However, upon completion of the full investigation, I will certainly consider all facts put before me.”
“In the interest of transparency, it is important to relay some of the information we do know regarding the initiation of the police interaction with the fleeing suspects and new information that has come to light.
“Information we have at this time alleges that the driver of the vehicle, Blake S. Coombs, 18, aka Blake Isenhower, fled from lawful detention in Richmond, Indiana and is being investigated for the theft of a vehicle from that facility.”
“In addition, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a burglary that occurred on January 9, 2020, involving stolen power tools and a 40” television. Law enforcement was provided information at the scene of the crash that Blake Coombs and Tyler Cooley were possible suspects in that burglary. Power tools and the remnants of a television were located by law enforcement at the crash scene.”
“Over the weekend, the father of one of the victims of the crash, Brian James, encountered law enforcement and gave a verbal indication to officers that he was a danger to himself or others. While at the Sheriff’s Department, Mr. James was arrested on a warrant issued for a domestic incident that is alleged to have occurred on October 29, 2019 involving Jackie James and Brooklyn James. The arrest warrant for Mr. James was issued on November 1, 2019. Mr. James was detained on the outstanding warrant on January 11, 2020, for his personal safety, the safety of others, and to begin the process of resolving that case.”
“Further information from law enforcement indicates that following the crash, Mr. James made several posts on social media, including a photograph of a gun and others in which references were made to potentially killing Blake Coombs and harming himself and law enforcement. Due to his criminal history, Mr. James is prohibited from possessing firearms. New charges are anticipated for these actions. Mr. James will have his initial hearing on Monday, January 13, 2020 at 11:15 a.m. in the Jefferson Circuit Court.”
“These charges are merely allegations and all suspects are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.”
“I am keeping our community in my prayers, including the families and friends of the young adults involved, and our law enforcement officers who were involved in and at the scene. This is a tragic and unfortunate reminder to obey traffic stops and pull over safely, even if you fear the consequences. Thank you to the Indiana State Police, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, and the City of Madison Police Department for their work and service. I anticipate the full report on the investigation by the Indiana State Police in the coming weeks and will release additional information at that time.”
Thursday afternoon, a Madison Police Officer attempted to conduct a traffic stop on a 2005 Toyota passenger car in Madison. The driver fled in the vehicle from the officer before crashing the vehicle west of Madison. Two passengers in the vehicle died as a result of the crash.
The initial investigation by Indiana State Police-Versailles Detectives indicated that the vehicle being driven by Blake S. Coombs, 18, Madison, Indiana fled from the officer northbound on State Road 7 from Madison. The Indiana State Police and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department assisted the Madison Police Department in pursuing the vehicle. The vehicle turned westbound on State Road 250, southbound on State Road 3, and then eastbound on State Road 256 back towards Madison.
Coombs lost control of the vehicle on SR 256 at Thompson Road. The vehicle left the roadway, striking two utility poles on the northeast corner of the intersection. A front-seat passenger in the vehicle, Tyler Cooley, 18, Hanover, and a backseat passenger, Brooklyn James, 19, Madison, sustained fatal injuries in the crash. They were both pronounced deceased at the scene by the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office. Coombs was airlifted from the scene to a Louisville area hospital where he is being treated for serious injuries.
Coombs, who also went by the name Blake Eisenhower, was unlicensed at the time of the crash.
Detectives from the Indiana State Police-Versailles Post assumed the lead role in the investigation. The ISP-Versailles Post Crash Reconstruction Team responded to investigate the crash. A crime scene investigator from the ISP-Sellersburg Post also assisted at the scene.
The investigation is ongoing. State Road 256 remained closed for approximately seven hours for the investigation and crash cleanup.