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Driver in fatal chase listed in stable condition

November 26, 1996

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The driver of a car that collided with another car during a high-speed chase Sunday, killing a Shepherd College student, was listed in stable condition at Winchester Medical Center on Monday, a hospital spokeswoman said.

A state trooper on duty at the West Virginia State Police barracks in Berkeley County said Monday night he did not know whether the driver, Robert Lee Sparkman Jr. of Gerrardstown, has been charged in the incident.

The incident remained under investigation Monday, police said.

According to police, Sparkman's car, which they had been chasing at speeds that may have hit 100 mph, rammed into the rear of a Ford Escort driven by Amanda Marie Smailes, 21, of Inwood. Smailes was killed in the crash and Sparkman was seriously injured, police said.

The chase began around 1 a.m. when Trooper Kevin Plumer tried to pull Sparkman over after he observed him driving erratically on U.S. 11 near Inwood, police alleged. During the pursuit, Sparkman lost control of his car and struck Plumer's cruiser, police said. The chase ended near Darkesville when Sparkman's car hit Smailes' car and forced it off the road into a utility pole, police said.

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