Fiery crash ends pursuit

Published 6:56 pm Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Virginia State Police say a driver who died in a fiery Suffolk crash after a chase that started in Sussex County had been going more than 30 miles per hour over the speed limit when they attempted to stop him.

At about 8:23 a.m. Tuesday, a trooper attempted to stop the vehicle on U.S. Route 460 in Sussex County for going 76 mph in a 45 mph zone, according to a press release from spokeswoman Corinne Geller.

The trooper activated his lights to initiate a traffic stop. However, the vehicle accelerated and, continuing eastbound on Route 460, came through another trooper’s radar at 105 mph in a 55 mph zone.

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Both troopers then pulled behind the speeding vehicle, but the driver still refused to stop, according to the press release.

The vehicle continued eastbound on Route 58 in Suffolk. A third trooper attempted to block and slow the suspect vehicle down, but the vehicle sideswiped the trooper’s marked patrol car. The trooper slowed due to traffic and positioned himself on the right shoulder.

The vehicle continued around traffic, came across the lanes and struck the trooper again, according to Geller.

The impact and the high rate of speed caused the driver to lose control, Geller said, and the vehicle ran off the right side of the road, struck a tree and caught fire.

Troopers attempted to put out the fire, but the suspect died at the scene, Geller said.

The driver’s remains were transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Norfolk for positive identification, examination and autopsy.

The trooper who was struck suffered “some bumps and bruises, but nothing requiring hospitalization,” Geller said.

No further details were available by press time Tuesday, Geller said, including identification of the driver.

According to Virginia State Police’s pursuit policy, it is supposed to consider the seriousness of the violator’s offense, the time of day and location, weather and roadway conditions, vehicular and pedestrian traffic and more.

It is an ongoing investigation, and the Virginia State Police Chesapeake Division Crash Reconstruction Team assisted with the investigation.

City spokeswoman Diana Klink said Suffolk police were notified about the pursuit prior to it entering the city, but no Suffolk officers were directly involved in the pursuit.

According to the Suffolk Police Department’s pursuit policy, it does not get involved in pursuits initiated by other jurisdictions if the pursuit is not for a cause that would allow Suffolk police to initiate a pursuit.

“Flagrantly reckless driving,” which according to the policy includes driving more than 20 mph over the speed limit or more than 80 mph regardless of the speed limit, is one of the justifications in Suffolk Police policy for a pursuit.