EPD: Fatal crash was preceded by truck theft

An El Dorado man was killed early last month after allegedly stealing a truck and then crashing it on Mount Holly Road.

Shawn D. Samuels, 30, of El Dorado was killed on Oct. 7 after crashing in a Ford F-150, which caught on fire as a result of the accident.

According to a report from the El Dorado Police Department, Samuels was driving a truck that was believed by police to be stolen when he crashed.

On Oct. 7, the EPD responded to a report of a white F-150 hitting a man. Police made contact with Rickey Sorrells near the Mobil gas station on 10th Street, where he and witnesses reported him being hit by the truck.

One witness allegedly told police that he saw Sorrells chasing the pickup truck on foot. As the truck exited the parking lot of a nearby vacant building, the witness said he saw the driver of the truck run over Sorrells before leaving the scene.

Another witness seconded the first's claims, and said the white truck belonged to Sorrells, the EPD report states.

A third witness told police he saw Sorrells arrive at the gas station in the white truck, and while Sorrells was still inside, he saw another man get into his truck. He said he pointed out the other man to Sorrells, at which point Sorrells began chasing the truck, the report states.

An officer also interviewed Sorrells at South Arkansas Regional Hospital, where he was being treated for the injuries he sustained being hit by his truck. According to the police report, Sorrells said he stopped at the gas station for a drink and left his truck running and unlocked while inside. When he saw someone driving off in his vehicle, he thought it was a friend playing a prank, he told the officer.

Sorrells said he followed the truck to the nearby vacant building, and was struck as the driver tried to leave the area. He said he was hit by the front passenger side of the truck and run over by the front passenger side tire, and also told police he saw the driver in the truck make a hard right turn "in an attempt to (run) over him with the rear tire."

Meanwhile, another EPD officer with knowledge of the incident saw a white F-150 matching the description of Sorrells's vehicle approaching Liberty Street from College Avenue. The officer activated his blue lights and began pursuing the truck, which turned to head west on Mount Holly Road at about 50 miles per hour.

According to the report, as the pursuit continued, the officer and truck's speeds reached as high as 80 miles per hour. The officer wrote in the report that after crossing over Highway 335, the driver "began (to) drive carelessly with disregard to any human life," almost striking another driver.

At that point, the officer pursuing the driver decided to back off due to the near miss with the other motorist and his own vehicle's brakes being "completely depleted."

Officers were subsequently told to continue to head west on Mount Holly in search of the vehicle, and near the 6500 block of Mount Holly, police eventually found the F-150 "wrecked out on the south side of the road fully engulfed in flames."

The El Dorado Fire Department responded to the scene of the accident and officers had to back away "due to the possibility of an explosion," the report states. The truck's gas tank did eventually explode, and the Cairo Volunteer Fire Department joined the EFD to fight the fire.

Firefighters found Samuels, 33, deceased inside the vehicle. His remains were identified by the Arkansas State Crime Lab later in October.

Alice Sorrells, Rickey Sorrells's mother, said that after he was taken to SARH, her son was transported for treatment in Little Rock. Medical professionals initially thought he had a brain bleed, she said, and he also had two broken legs, a torn ligament and cuts, bruises and scrapes.

She said her son has accrued possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical debt due to the incident.

"It's just been a horrible ordeal," she said, noting that due to his injuries, her son currently isn't able to work.