Tullahoma city employee killed during police pursuit of suspects

Courtesy: Mayor Lane Curlee

TULLAHOMA, Tenn. (WKRN) – Friends of a Tullahoma man are in shock and angry after the 66-year-old was hit and killed during a Coffee County sheriff’s pursuit overnight Wednesday.

Joe Moon was hit by a car fleeing deputies around midnight at the intersection of South Jackson and West Carroll streets.

His friends said he was likely leaving a local recreational center after a late night work out, which was typical for him.

Moon died at the scene.

Kayla Hickey (Courtesy: Coffee County Sheriff's Office)
Kayla Hickey (Courtesy: Coffee County Sheriff’s Office)

The following day, Sheriff Steve Graves reported the other driver, 21-year-old Kayla Hickey, was stopped before the chase by a deputy for a busted license plate.

Sheriff Graves said the passenger of the, 22-year-old Charleston Ortega, was reportedly acting suspicious by trying to hide from the view of the deputy.

Hickey allegedly took off during the stop, and deputies pursued her vehicle. At one point, the sheriff said Hickey attempted to hit a deputy head-on, which is part of the reason authorities continued to chase her.

Both she and her passenger were charged in the deadly crash.

Charleston Ortega (Courtesy: Coffee County Sheriff's Office)
Charleston Ortega (Courtesy: Coffee County Sheriff’s Office)

Hickey faces charges for several drug violations, possession of a controlled substance, vehicular homicide, driving on a revoked or suspended license, evading arrest, reckless endangerment, aggravated assault, unlawful drug paraphernalia, and unlawful carrying or possession of a weapon.

Her bond was set at $240,500 and she’s due in court July 25.

Ortega faces charges for firearm use in association with dangerous felonies, tampering with or fabricating evidence/destruction of evidence, multiple drug violations, unlawful drug paraphernalia, possession of a controlled substance, and vehicular homicide.

His bond was set at $229,000 and he is also due in court July 25.

City mourns loss of city employee, community leader

Moon was a longtime city employee, working for more than 40 years with the Recreation Department, and was the head of the department until he retired about a year ago. He then continued to work part-time.

Moon, who was not married and had no children, was a mentor to countless children in Tullahoma. Many of the kids got their first jobs from him, working as lifeguards at city pools or doing landscaping work.

Courtesy: Mayor Lane Curlee
Joe Moon (Courtesy: Mayor Lane Curlee)

At London’s Sports Bar in downtown Tullahoma, his sister, friends and former coworkers remembered him.

A bar stool with a T-shirt of Moon printed on it as a young man was covered at the bar. In front of the stool, a single Bud Light was placed in his honor.

“To me personally, he meant a lot because he knew my kids when they were growing up,” General Manager Pam Lamborn said. “I know him for many years; in fact he went to school with my husband.”

Moon’s friends said his legacy will be the countless children he helped and guided over the years.

They now call Moon’s death senseless.

“My sister is just devastated,” Jacqueline Rippy said. “Joe was a down home person. My sister use to cook cornbread for him and take it to him.”

She continued, “It is hard. I miss my friend.”

Second bystander killed in high-speed chase in less than a month

Moon is the second innocent bystander killed as a result of a high speed chase in less than a month.

On June 24, Tennessee Highway Patrol officials told News 2 authorities were pursuing 28-year-old Garieon Simmons.

THP spokesman Sgt. Travis Plotzer said Simmons allegedly provided law enforcement with an incorrect name before they were able to correctly identify him.

Simmons reportedly stole a Cadillac Escalade from Coffee County Funeral Chapel on McMinnville Highway.

The funeral director said she didn’t know the person who stole the vehicle, which is normally used for funeral processions and to run errands.

After going the wrong way on Interstate 24 West, Simmons reportedly exited onto Church Street, about 30 miles from where he stole the vehicle.

According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Simmons was traveling southbound at a high rate of speed when he struck a Nissan Altima pulling out of a parking lot onto Church Street.

The Altima was hit on its driver’s side and the driver, 28-year-old Jessica Campos, was killed.

During the crash, Simmons struck a second car and that driver received minor injuries, according to the THP.

Campos had a 7-month-old girl in the car with her, who was injured in the crash, but the child’s life was saved thanks to a car seat.

Coffee County’s Sheriff’s Office said more information about the car chase would likely be released on Friday.

The two people in the fleeing car survived the wreck.

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