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Pursuit ends in crash on I-40 in Cookeville, killing woman, 2 children

Posted at 2:24 PM, Jan 26, 2021

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A woman and two children were killed in a crash following a police pursuit on Interstate 40.

Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers tried to stop 25-year-old Michael Don Shepherd, of Pegram, in a 2020 Toyota Tacoma truck Tues. morning on I-40. But the driver refused to stop and exited at Willow Avenue in Cookeville.

Shepherd continued to speed away from troopers on Interstate Drive, but as he entered the intersection of Interstate Drive and South Willow Avenue, he hit a 2012 Nissan Versa driven by 24-year-old Amanda Chatman, according to Cookeville Police officials.

Chatman was traveling north on South Willow Avenue when she entered the intersection. Shepherd hit the passenger's side of her vehicle, killing her and the two children (ages 3 and 4) also in the vehicle at the scene.

Lisa Brewington, the grandmother of the two children, showed up to the crash site Tuesday to begin a small memorial of flowers and balloons for her family.

"Look at what he's done," Brewington said about Shepherd. "He's killed a 24 year old mother and he has killed a 3 year old and 4 year old little boy who don't have a chance anymore to even live a life."

Shepherd suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was arrested and charged with three counts of vehicular homicide and evading arrest. He was transported to the Putnam County Jail where he was booked on a $5,000 bond.

Michael Don Shepherd
Michael Don Shepherd

THP officials released a statement Wednesday, saying: "The Tennessee Highway Patrol is working with District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway's office and the Cookeville Police Department in the investigation of a tragic incident that took the lives of three innocent people on January 26. We are deeply saddened, and our hearts go out to the community, families, and all involved."

Cookeville Police officials say the crash remains under investigation with the assistance of the Office of the District Attorney General. They asked anyone who may have witnessed the crash and has not yet spoken with police to call the Criminal Investigation Division of the Cookeville Police Department at 931-520-5372 or the main station at 931-526-2125.