Suffolk tried to aid pursuit

Published 4:23 pm Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Although the Suffolk Police Department was not an “active participant” in Tuesday’s police pursuit that led to a fiery and fatal crash on Route 58, the department did attempt to provide aid to Virginia State Police both during the pursuit and after it ended, according to a city spokeswoman.

The pursuit started in Sussex County at 8:23 a.m. after Virginia State Police say a trooper clocked the driver going 76 miles per hour in a 45-mph zone, according to state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller.

The driver didn’t stop for the trooper who tried to initiate a traffic stop, Geller said. She said the driver later came through another trooper’s radar in a 55-mph zone at 105 mph.

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After moving into Suffolk, the pursuit ended on U.S. Route 58 eastbound near the on-ramp from downtown. The driver twice sideswiped a trooper’s car, and the impact of the second collision caused the vehicle to leave the road, strike a tree and catch fire. The troopers attempted to put out the fire, but the driver died on scene. No troopers were seriously injured.

No further details on the chase, including an identification of the driver, were available by press time Wednesday, State Police Sgt. Michelle Anaya said.

City spokeswoman Diana Klink said Suffolk police were notified of the pursuit before it entered the city, but they did not join the actual chase.

“The pursuit moved into our city very quickly,” she wrote in an email. “The Suffolk Police Department had a couple of units follow in the general direction of the pursuit and arrived at the crash scene well after the wreck and assisted with traffic control.”

Klink also said several Suffolk units tried to get into position to block intersections and on-ramps as the pursuit went by in an attempt to protect unsuspecting motorists.

However, they “were not very successful due to the quick movement of the pursuit,” she added.

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 other factors when deciding whether to pursue a fleeing driver and how long to continue a 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.

Even when the department is not directly involved in the pursuit, however, the policy allows Suffolk police to render aid such as blocking traffic, in the interest of public safety.