Ringgold man arrested after leaving the scene of crash that left child injured on I-75 in Catoosa
According to a Georgia State Patrol crash and incident report, on Tuesday, July 21st, 2020, at approximately 3:25 PM, TFC2 Hensley was dispatched to a hit and run crash that occurred on I-75 northbound at mile marker 354 just south of the State Line. The trooper arrived and found a 2017 Nissan Altima with disabling rear-end damage. The driver, Andrea Cruz, 35 of Blairsville, GA, stated that she had been caught in stop and go traffic when she saw a tan or gold sedan later identified as a 200o Toyota Avalon approaching at a high rate of speed behind her. Cruz advised the driver later identified as Micheal Penley, 35 of Ringgold struck her vehicle and then continued northbound into Tennessee without stopping. Cruz described the driver and stated that the Avalon had heavy front end damage. Cruz stated she didn't think that the vehicle would have made it much further with the amount of damage. A passerby was able to get the numbers to a Georgia License Plate on the vehicle that struck her and left. TFC Day respond to the address listed on the registered owner's license plate, which returned to the residence on Guyler Street in Ringgold. TFC Day advised that he spoke with a neighbor who stated that a vehicle matching that description belonged to the address and that a white male matching the description frequently drove the vehicle to and from the residence. A short time later, at approximately 5:36 PM, TFC Whitfield was patrolling the area of GA-151 at GA-3, observed a vehicle with a matching license plate, front end damage, and a white male driver matching the description pull into the Mapco located at GA-151 and GA-3. When Penley saw TFC Whitfield's patrol car, he exited the driver's seat and entered the gas station bathroom while on his phone and looking in the direction of TFC Whitfield. TFC2 Hensley arrived at the gas station minutes later and entered the facility with TFC Whitfield and multiple Ringgold City Officers that had arrived on the scene. As they made their way to the restroom area, they heard the toilet flushing multiple times and waited a few moments for Penley to exit the restroom. After a few minutes, they announced themselves to Penley to exit the restroom. As Penley exited, he was immediately detained. When asked, originally, Penley stated that he had no idea what the troopers were talking about and wanted to know why he was being detained. A search through GCIC revealed Penley's license was revoked through the state of Tennessee. The search also revealed the Penley had a warrant through Hamilton County. When troopers advised that a 9-year-old boy was injured in the crash where he struck the vehicle and fled the scene, Penley stated, "I'm a shitty person, [I] had no idea there was a kid in the car." Penley continued to go back and forth on whether he was in the vehicle or had any knowledge of the crash. At times he stated he had no idea what TFC2 Hensley was talking about, and other times he stated he was in the car but wasn't driving. Penley continuously asked questions about how he had been located and why a Trooper had come to his house earlier and knocked on his door. A closer investigation of the vehicle that was parked behind the Mapco in the parking lot revealed that the vehicle had substantial front end damage consistent with the damage to the other disabled vehicle in the crash. The vehicle had no tread on the front right tire and bulge in the rubber sidewall. The vehicle also appeared to have just been taken to a car wash. While completing the vehicle inventory TFC2 Hensley located twelve blue round pills and one peach round pill in a cigarette box in the center console contained in a clear plastic baggie. Penley was subsequently transported to the Catoosa County Jail charged with possession of scheduled II controlled substance, drugs not in the original container, driving while license revoked, hit and run with injuries, following too closely, and tires. None of Cruz's other kids or three passengers were injured in the crash.