No armed, one legged driver outruns police

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No armed, one legged driver outruns police

Got to admire this guy. He drives a car with the stumps of his shoulders. He is also charged with kicking an officer. With one leg?

NEW PORT RICHEY - For about eight minutes on Tuesday, through the streets near downtown, police chased a driver who had no arms and one good leg.

He got away.
He is used to this sort of thing.

Authorities say the driver was Michael Francis Wiley, 40, who overcame three amputations, taught himself to drive with stumps and proceeded to become one of Pasco County's most accomplished traffic violators.

His license has been suspended so many times that driving itself has become a felony.

Which brings us to Tuesday, about 12:50 p.m., when a New Port Richey Police officer spotted Wiley in a suspicious vehicle - a blue Ford Explorer - at a convenience store off U.S. 19, according to Capt. Darryl Garman. When the officer went to investigate, the Explorer took off.

The chase, eventually joined by a second officer, led down the highway to Sunset Road and Veterans Drive, back to 19, back to Sunset, and finally over the bridge into Port Richey.

But the Explorer was spotted a minute later on Grand Boulevard, Garman said. From there it went to River Gulf Road, then south on Washington Street to Massachusetts Avenue. About 1 p.m., the officers broke off the chase because it could have put others in danger, Garman said. The Explorer was last seen heading south on Grand.

Police will seek an arrest warrant for Wiley today; charges could include fleeing to elude and habitually driving with a revoked license.

If it really was Wiley behind the wheel Tuesday - and it is hard to imagine him being confused with another driver - this was not his most spectacular car chase. In 1998, while driving a green Corvette, he led deputies down Interstate 75 at nearly 120 mph.

According to court records, Wiley has stolen a car, kicked a state trooper and attacked his wife headfirst. He is awaiting trial on separate drug and illegal-driving charges. He faces up to five years in prison.

Most Ford Explorers have automatic transmissions, though several people say Wiley is perfectly competent with a stick shift.

"He is one of the best drivers I've ever seen in my life, " said Lee Michie, a longtime acquaintance. "But he's the worst person I've ever met."

Michael Wiley demonstrates how he drives in the driveway of his Port Richey home. Wiley lost both arms and part of a leg in an accident when he was 13, in 1980, and has since then racked up one of the worst driving histories in the history of Pasco County. He was in another short police chase Tuesday but got away.

michael-wiley.jpg - 19.31kb
By netchicken: posted on 10-5-2007

Looks like Wiley has finally run out of luck...

There was a time when nothing could keep Michael Francis Wiley from behind the wheel — not even a triple amputation that makes simple tasks like tying a shoe impossible.

Even police, who busted Wiley so many times that it's now a felony for him to drive, couldn't stop him.

But now he is at the end of the road: He is scheduled to face a judge Friday for sentencing on a new round of felony traffic and drug possession charges. Prosecutors want to put him in jail for five years, and this time, Wiley says he's turning in the keys for good.

... Quote:
I'm beat. The white flag is up. You can only bang your head against the wall so long before it hurts.

Driving, he says, is one of the few things that lets him feel free and exert his independence.

I'm an excellent driver, It is something I can do well by myself. I've been thoroughly tested by the department of motor vehicles and I passed with flying colors. It's something I can do independently. I know it's wrong, but it's something I can do by myself
said Wiley, 40, from behind thick glass in the Pasco County Jail.

Wiley was already facing felony charges of driving without a license on May 8 when a police officer spotted him behind the wheel of a blue Ford Explorer at a convenience store. The officer told him to wait while he ran a license check.

He put the truck in gear and sped off, according to the arrest report. Officers pursued, but called off the chase because the Ford was zipping through oncoming traffic in a "reckless" manner. Wiley was arrested the next day and charged with fleeing.

Wiley won't discuss the specifics of his case, but said fear of drug withdrawal is one of the reasons he fled.

In June, Wiley entered a no contest plea to a variety of driving and drug charges. He plans to ask the judge for mercy and hopes to get sentenced to a drug treatment program. His attorney, John Hooker of Tampa, said it is unlikely Wiley will avoid a prison sentence.

"It's sad to say. I just hope the system has not given up on him," Hooker said. "He hasn't hurt anyone but himself and his family."

When it's all over, Wiley plans to go somewhere far away, where police won't recognize him on sight.

"I don't like the idea that I'm Pasco County's most notorious driver. That's hype," Wiley said. "I'm not public enemy No. 1. I'm just a regular guy with some handicaps. I made a few mistakes. I'm sorry and I'm paying for them."
By netchicken: posted on 2-8-2007

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