Fatal Crash Investigation
At approximately 7:41 AM on Tuesday, January 26, 2021, Cookeville Police Officers were notified that the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) was pursuing a 2020 Toyota Tacoma truck near the Monterey area on Interstate 40. The driver of the fleeing truck (later identified as 25-year-old Michael Don Shepherd of Pegram, Tennessee) led troopers to the city limits of Cookeville eventually approaching the intersection of Interstate Drive and South Willow Avenue. Michael Don Shepherd was traveling westbound on Interstate Drive at a high rate of speed while approaching the intersection with South Willow Avenue.
Simultaneously, Amanda Chatman (age 24 of Cookeville) was traveling northbound on South Willow Avenue in a 2012 Nissan Versa. Shepherd’s vehicle entered the intersection and struck the passenger side of Chatman’s vehicle. The vehicles came to a rest at the northwestern portion of the intersection after the crash.
Amanda Chatman’s vehicle was also occupied by two children, ages 3 and 4. Sadly, all three occupants died at the scene.
Michael Don Shepherd suffered non life-threatening injuries and was arrested and charged with three counts of vehicular homicide and evading arrest. He was transported to the Putnam County Jail where he was booked. He will be brought before the General Sessions Court to address a bond for the vehicular homicide charges on Wednesday. A bond of $5,000.00 was set by the magistrate on the evading arrest offense.
This crash remains under investigation by the Cookeville Police Department with the assistance of the Office of the District Attorney General. If anyone witnessed the crash and has not yet spoken with police, please call the Criminal Investigation Division of the Cookeville Police Department at 931-520-5372 or the main station at 931-526-2125.