News Release

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TFC Billy Gregory
Public Affairs Officer
Kentucky State Police
Post 15, Columbia
(270) 384-4796
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Criminal Investigation follows Pursuit by local agencies

Date of News Release: 03/15/2012

(Columbia, KY.) On Wednesday, March 14 at approximately 10:22 CST the Russell County Sheriff's Department advised Post 15 they were in pursuit of a vehicle headed west on the Louie B Nunn Parkway. During the pursuit, the vehicle crossed the median several times, driving in both the east and westbound lanes and struck a Russell County Sheriff's Department cruiser. The pursuit left the Parkway at the Columbia exit and headed south on KY 0061.

The Adair County Sheriff's Department joined the pursuit and entered the roadway in front of the suspect vehicle in an attempt to slow him down. The suspect vehicle attempted to pass the Deputy and lost control of his vehicle, striking the Deputy's cruiser and rendering it disabled. The suspect vehicle then overturned and came to rest off of the roadway.

The vehicle, a 1990 GMC pickup, was operated by 32-year-old Christopher P. Benham of Glens Fork, KY. He was airlifted from the scene to University of Kentucky hospital in Lexington where he is currently in critical but stable condition. His wife, 31-year-old Jamie Benham was the lone passenger and was airlifted to University Hospital in Louisville where she is being treated for injuries.

Russell County Deputy Mark Cromwell and Adair County Deputy Justin Claywell were operating the cruiser's struck during the pursuit but were not injured.

The pursuit began following a report to Russell County dispatch that the suspect vehicle was in need of assistance. When Deputy Cromwell arrived and located the vehicle parked on the roadway, Christopher Benham was working on his vehicle. Deputy Cromwell approached Benham and was given a false name. When Deputy Cromwell called in the vehicle registration plate, Benham got into the truck and fled the scene. It was then discovered that he had a Russell County Indictment warrant for Receiving Stolen Property U/$10,000 and for being a Persitent Felony Offender.

Tpr. Mike Saunders and Tpr. Bryan Shepard are investigating the collisions and criminal cases of Wanton Endangerment of Police Officers.

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