Nashville firefighter accused of drunken high speed chase

Nashville firefighter accused of drunken high speed chase (Image 1)

A Nashville firefighter faces felony charges for evading arrest, reckless endangerment and other violations in connection with a high speed chase that spanned Wilson and Sumner counties.

Mario Martinez was off duty when police tried to stop him near Eastgate Boulevard in Lebanon around 11 p.m. last Thursday.

A caller complained that the 25-year-old appeared to be intoxicated as he drove his truck near Eastgate Boulevard and Highway 109.

According to a Lebanon Police Department incident report, Martinez failed to stop when a Lebanon police officer attempted to pull him over.

The report said Martinez sped up Highway 109 at speeds reaching more than 110 miles-per-hour.

During the chase, officers tried multiple times to deploy road spikes to flatten Martinez's tires, but each time Martinez avoided them.

“It is unfortunate that someone like this would put the public and the officers in this situation,” Lebanon Police Chief Scott Bowen said. “Nothing good happens when you run from the police, especially in a vehicle.”

The chase continued in Gallatin where Gallatin police joined Lebanon officers in their pursuit.

According to a Gallatin Police Department incident report, Martinez sped down South Water Avenue. Officers reported Martinez often drove in the wrong lane at speeds in excess of 100 miles-an-hour.

At one point he drove in the wrong lane for a half of a mile, according to police.

Also during the chase, police said Martinez hit another driver at the intersection of Nashville Pike and Maple Street in Gallatin.

The driver of the car was uninjured and Martinez continued on according to police officers' accounts.

When the chase reached Hendersonville, officers stopped chasing Martinez.  Later, they were able to track Martinez through his vehicle registration information.

However, by the time officers made contact with Martinez, he had already been arrested in a separate incident by Metro police.

Police arrested Martinez for DUI Saturday morning after finding him in his stopped vehicle in a lane of travel on Interstate 65.

According to Metro's arrest affidavit, Martinez's blood alcohol content was .22, which is nearly three times the legal limit of .08.

Martinez claimed he had run out of gas.

After Martinez bonded out of jail in Nashville, he voluntarily met with officers at Lebanon police headquarters were he admitted to leading officers on the high speed chase Thanksgiving night.

He was arrested in Lebanon and charged with felony reckless endangerment and evading arrest.

Lebanon's police chief said Martinez could also face DUI charges in connection to the pursuit.

“To me, it is just like walking out into a crowded neighborhood and shooting a gun,” Chief Bowen said.  “When you drive drunk at these speeds, you are just looking to kill somebody.”

After Martinez was booked in Lebanon, Gallatin police also arrested him on several charges related to the chase in Gallatin.

He is charged in Gallatin with 23 counts of reckless endangerment, nine counts of driving on the wrong side of roadway, six counts of fail to obey traffic control signal, four counts of speeding and one count each of evading arrest, violation of light law, among other charges.

The charges are in addition to the separate DUI charge he faces in Nashville.

The Nashville Fire Department placed Martinez on paid, off-duty administrative leave on Tuesday.

In a statement, Deputy Chief Kim Lawson said, “The Nashville Fire Department was made aware of the situation involving employee Mario Martinez and we are awaiting the detailed reports and additional information. Once received, the matter will be thoroughly reviewed.”

Lawson said Martinez is a probationary employee, hired May of 2011.

She continued, “We take this very seriously and he will most certainly face disciplinary action, which can range from suspension, demotion, to termination.”

On Tuesday, Sumner County's jail reported that Martinez was no longer incarcerated.

A message left for Martinez at the cell phone number listed on a police incident report was not immediately returned.

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