FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla., May 16, 2019—A Destin man faces multiple felony charges after leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase from Destin to Fort Walton Beach Thursday.
Edward Graham Thornburg, 54, driving a white Land Rover, fled the scene of a hit-and-run accident near the Days Inn in Destin sometime after 9 a.m.
In his attempt to evade capture, he hit three law enforcement vehicles and two other cars in addition to the hit-and-run crash in Destin.
Thornburg was taken into custody in Fort Walton Beach. He was charged with:
- Six counts of hit-and-run involving property damage, second-degree misdemeanor
- Six counts of driving under the influence with property damage, first-degree misdemeanor
- Aggravated fleeing and eluding with injury or damage, second-degree felony
- DUI refusal to submit to a chemical test for a second time, first-degree misdemeanor
- Assault on a law enforcement officer, second-degree felony
- Aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, first-degree felony
- Cocaine possession, third-degree felony
- Possession of a controlled substance, third-degree felony
- Possession of drug paraphernalia, first-degree misdemeanor
- Smuggling contraband into a detention facility, third-degree felony
An Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office deputy responding to the crash around 9:30 a.m. spotted the Land Rover traveling east on U.S. 98 past Beach Drive in Destin.
Turning around, he chased Thornburg who was driving at a high rate of speed through Destin, according to the arrest report.
As he slowed for traffic, two OCSO vehicles attempted to box the Land Rover in, but Thornburgh hit two cars and the front bumper of one of the OCSO vehicles, causing the investigator who was standing next to his patrol vehicle to jump out of the fleeing SUV’s path to avoid being hit.
Thornburg crossed the Marler Bridge toward Okaloosa Island, reaching speeds up to 115 mph in the 55 mph zone, passing vehicles on the sand and gravel shoulder multiple times.
At Santa Rosa Boulevard, Thornburg weaved around stopped vehicles and fled across the Brooks Bridge into downtown Fort Walton Beach where the chase continued in and around the Elliot’s Point neighborhood.
Multiple law enforcement vehicles attempted to block him in, but Thornburg rammed a patrol car and side-swiped a deputy’s vehicle before fleeing.
Thornburg was finally stopped when the deputy reversed gears and rammed the Land Rover’s left rear.
Thornburg was pulled to the ground after he refused to get out of the SUV.
After being read his rights, Thornburg said he left the hit-and-run scene because the other driver threatened him and panicked when the OCSO deputy try to stop him in Destin.
He admitted to having only two alcoholic drinks in the last 12 hours, but thought the time was about 4 p.m. Actual time was just before 10 a.m.
He also said he had not slept in two days.
Thornburg smelled of alcohol, had bloodshot glassy eyes and slurred speech, according to the arrest report.
A search of the SUV uncovered a plastic bag of approximately 8 grams of cocaine and a pipe that field tested positive for methamphetamine.
When loaded into an ambulance, a Fort Walton Beach police officer found a plastic bag with partially crushed Xanax bars which Thornburg claimed weren’t his.
At the Fort Walton Beach Medical Center, another OCSO deputy found another Xanax pill in Thornburg’s possession.
After being released from the hospital and transported to the Okaloosa County Courthouse Annex, a search found a wadded paper towel in Thornburg’s underwear containing half of yet another Xanax pill.
Thornburg refused to give a sample of his breath. A records search uncovered his refusal to submit to a chemical test in 2016 in Okaloosa County and in 2011 in Hillsborough County, Florida.
He is being held in the Okaloosa County Jail without bond.
From the OCSO arrest report