On July 25, 2023, following a high-speed chase through the streets of Okaloosa County, a jury found Wendell Joseph Wright guilty of multiple charges, including Fleeing to Elude a Law Enforcement Officer, Reckless Driving, Grand Theft of an Automobile, Possession of a Controlled Substance, Driving while License Suspended, and Possession of Paraphernalia.
The verdict came after Mr. Wright had stolen a friend’s vehicle, setting off a series of events culminating in a dramatic police pursuit. Deputies from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office were alerted to the stolen vehicle’s whereabouts and attempted to initiate a traffic stop. Instead of complying, Mr. Wright accelerated, sparking a dangerous high-speed chase that snaked through Eglin Parkway and Highway 123.
During the pursuit, Mr. Wright drove recklessly, sometimes even heading the wrong way down the road, endangering oncoming traffic. The situation took a more dangerous turn when Mr. Wright collided with a sheriff’s deputy vehicle.
Ultimately, it took the determined efforts of the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office to forcibly halt Mr. Wright’s rampage to prevent harm to innocent bystanders.
In a recent sentencing hearing, The Honorable John T. Brown designated Mr. Wright as a Habitual Felony Offender and handed down a 15-year Department of Corrections sentence followed by seven years of probation. This verdict reflects the severity of the charges and the risks posed during the high-speed pursuit.
Both cases involving Mr. Wright were meticulously investigated by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office and prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Michelle Sandler on behalf of State Attorney Ginger Bowden Madden.