KINGSPORT — A locksmith was issued a speeding ticket for rushing to the scene where a child was accidentally locked inside a car.
A Tennessee Highway Patrol officer earlier this week nearly arrested Hawkins County locksmith Randy Price — at gunpoint — for evading arrest and reckless endangerment, but the officer dropped the charges to speeding.
“It was a breakdown in communication at the Highway Patrol’s office,” Price said. “The trooper assumed this was a stolen vehicle and I was a fleeing felon.”
Price said he was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher trying to figure out why the officer was pulling him over.
He said he called the dispatcher on the way to Mount Carmel, about five miles west of Kingsport, where a baby was locked inside a car. The message that he might be speeding to get there never made it to the Highway Patrol officer.
“I was thinking that was as good as talking directly with the officer, but evidently not,” Price said.
He said he was traveling 86 mph in a 55 mph zone to get to the scene more than 20 miles away, all while hearing a child’s muffled scream in the background of a telephone call.
Local police responded before Price made it to the scene, but one of the children’s relatives found a key to the car.
The child was not harmed, police said.
Highway Patrol spokesman Mike Browning said it’s the responsibility of police — not locksmiths — to get children out of locked cars.
“If we receive a call like this, dispatch normally sends both THP police and rescue to the scene,” Browning said. “An unauthorized motorist can’t put others in danger when he’s not in an authorized vehicle.”