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W.Va. high-speed chase bill passes

April 12, 1997

From staff and AP reports

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - In an action inspired by the death of a young Inwood, W.Va., woman, the West Virginia Legislature has passed a bill making it a felony for a motorist to lead police on a chase resulting in death.

The bill, was approved unanimously by the House of Delegates on Saturday and sent to Gov. Cecil Underwood for his signature, the Associated Press reported Saturday.

The maximum penalty would be up to 15 years in prison. The bill would establish five offenses with varying penalties.

The bill was introduced by Del. Larry Faircloth, R-Berkeley, in the wake of the death of Amanda Marie Smailes, 21, of Inwood.

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Smailes was killed Nov. 24, 1996, when a car being pursued by police struck her car.

A suspect, Robert Lee Sparkman Jr., was charged with driving under the influence resulting in death. He is awaiting trial.

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