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Driver charged after 40-mile high-speed chase

January 14, 2002

Driver charged after 40-mile high-speed chase



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI
kimy@herald-mail.com


A Martinsburg, W.Va.-area man was in custody after leading police on a high-speed chase about 40 miles through residential areas and an orchard before crashing his car and fleeing on foot Saturday morning.

Bobby Lee Stotler, 25, was charged with two felony crimes, fleeing while under the influence of alcohol in a vehicle and holding/hostage taking. He also was charged with 19 misdemeanor traffic charges, including destruction of property, resisting arrest, driving revoked-non DUI, failure to stop at a stop sign, reckless driving, no insurance, no registration, no motor vehicle inspection sticker, unsecured load, fleeing on foot while DUI and failure to drive with care.

He was being held at the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office pending a bond hearing, state police said.

The chase started on Blairton Road near W.Va. 45 around 4 a.m., when sheriff's deputies investigating an unrelated domestic incident noticed a 1979 Ford pickup truck drive by backfiring and shooting sparks from its exhaust.

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The pickup truck also had no registration plates.

A deputy followed the pickup truck down Blairton Road and put on the cruiser's emergency lights, signaling the pickup truck to stop, state police said.

The pickup truck driver continued so the deputy called for backup and West Virginia State Police joined the pursuit.

The chase moved from Blairton Road to W.Va. 45, then to Greensburg Road, as the pickup truck swerved back and forth over the centerlines.

The pursuit continued onto Myers Steele Bridge Road and Jacobs Road, where the pickup truck driver made a left turn into a yard. Police chased the driver through the homeowner's property and back onto Jacobs Road.

Throughout the pursuit, the driver failed to stop for several stop signs, police said. He also drove on the wrong side of the road, forcing oncoming cars to swerve to the shoulder. He managed to avoid two sets of stop sticks and almost hit a state trooper, police said.

The chase reached speeds of 60 to 65 mph in residential areas, police said.

With at least three police cars in pursuit, the driver continued to Berkeley Station Road, Scrabble Road, Mouth of Opequon Road, U.S. 11 and Hammonds Mill Road.

The driver headed toward Hedgesville, W.Va., and drove into an apple orchard, circling the trees before returning to the road.

The pickup truck driver eventually reached the area of Cherry Run Mobile Home Park and drove through a yard, attempting to drive between the homes.

He drove onto a large pile of shale and his vehicle became airborne before landing on top of more shale.

The driver jumped out of the pickup truck and tried to flee but was stopped by state troopers and deputies.

A passenger in the vehicle, Michael Hess, was questioned and later released, police said.

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