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Man indicted in fatal W.Va. chase

February 19, 1997


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Gerrardstown, W.Va., man was indicted Wednesday in the case of an Inwood, W.Va., woman who was killed following a high-speed chase on U.S. 11 in November, according to Berkeley County Circuit Court records.

A Berkeley County Grand Jury indicted Robert Lee Sparkman Jr., 28, on a charge of driving DUI causing death, according to court records.

The indictment follows a 12-mile chase on U.S. 11 on Nov. 24 that killed Amanda Marie Smailes, 21.

Smailes was on her way home from her job at the Martinsburg Wal-Mart when her car was struck from behind by a second car that was being pursued by police, according to police.


Police believe the Nissan 200 SX they were chasing may have been traveling at about 100 mph when it struck Smailes' Ford Escort near Smileys Inn in Darkesville, W.Va., West Virginia State Police said.

The chase began about 1 a.m. when Trooper Kevin Plumer saw a car swerving off the shoulder of U.S. 11 near Inwood, police said. Plumer tried to pull the car over, but the suspect fled at a high rate of speed, police said.

The chase continued to the intersection of U.S. 11, W.Va. 9 and W.Va. 45 near Martinsburg where the driver attempted to make a left turn onto W.Va. 45 but lost control, spun around in the intersection and collided with Plumer's cruiser, police said.

The pursuit then continued in the opposite direction on U.S. 11 toward Darkesville, police said.

After striking Smailes' car, the suspect's automobile struck a boulder, overturned, and hit a tree in a yard at a nearby house, police said.

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