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Crash, arrest ends car chase

May 09, 2002|BY ANDREW SCHOTZ and MARLO BARNHART

andrews@herald-mail.com

marlob@herald-mail.com

Steven Exum couldn't believe that part of Old Faithful's front end had been shorn off.

"I was getting ready to start restoring it," he said of the 1978 Buick LeSabre clobbered during a car chase that began at 5:43 p.m. Wednesday on North Prospect Street in Hagerstown.

A driver who took off from police after a traffic stop smashed into three parked cars on Forest Drive, near Pennsylvania Avenue, at about 5:45 p.m. Hagerstown City Police arrested the driver, but two passengers ran.

A loaded .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun was found in the grass down the block, but as of 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, police wouldn't confirm whether it was connected to the car involved in the chase.

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Carmelian Crusade Davis, 23, of Fort Pierce, Fla., was at police headquarters Wednesday night awaiting an appearance before a bond commissioner. With the investigation into the gun continuing, Davis had been charged with fleeing and eluding, reckless and negligent driving and hit and run, Officer Korey Hinkle said.

"And he is also charged with first- and second-degree assault - after hitting the final parked car, he put his car in reverse toward where our officers were," Sgt. Mark Renner alleged.

Exum's Buick, which he called Old Faithful, was the second car hit.

A big chunk of the left front fender and headlight assembly were strewn in the street.

Exum's girlfriend, Linda Wilson, had parked the car next to the Jamison Door Co. after running some errands.

Wilson was inside a friend's home on Forest Drive when Exum's car was hit. She said she ran down the stairs in time to see men get out of the car that had just crashed and run down the street.

Wilson said she saw a police officer pull out a gun and order one of the men to stop, which he did.

Harry Barnett Sr.'s 1989 Toyota Camry was the first car hit.

"That looks like it's totaled," he said, standing in his driveway. "He looks like he did a good job on it."

After bouncing off Barnett's Toyota on the right side of the street and into Exum's Buick on the left side, the fleeing 1985 Oldsmobile Delta Royale plowed into the back of Helen Miles' 1990 Buick Riviera before stopping.

Miles said she was in her kitchen when she heard the collision. When she peeked out her front door, she saw a man run toward her back yard. She scampered back to her kitchen to close an outside door she had left open.

The neighborhood hasn't seen excitement like that before, Miles said.

Hinkle and his partner, Officer Rebecca Williams, noticed Davis' vehicle because it appeared to have altered 30-day temporary Pennsylvania tags.

"The car didn't stop on Prospect and then turned on North Avenue and again, it didn't stop," Hinkle said.

Two people fled the car on foot after the three-minute chase by Hinkle's cruiser. They were still at large late Wednesday, Hinkle said.

Both were described as black males, between 5 feet 11 inches and 6 feet tall, weighing 150 to 180 pounds, one wearing black pants and a white T-shirt and the other in jeans and a black, red and white shirt, police said.

A pair of crutches found in the Oldsmobile belonged to Davis, who was unable to flee because of a bandaged foot, police said.

Paul Smith, 16, of 645 Oak Hill Ave., said if he had taken the trash out to the alley near his home a minute earlier, he might have been hit when the cars involved in the chase zoomed past.

"It's a good thing I didn't," he said. "I heard the sirens going and I saw this car going by real fast, so I didn't chance it."

Shane Kline of 653 Oak Hill Ave. said he and daughters, ages 7 and 9, had just finished planting flowers outside their house a few minutes earlier.

Kline said the pursuit was dangerous in a residential neighborhood and questioned whether the police should have allowed it.

Hagerstown City Police updated its policy on pursuit driving in June 2001, setting guidelines but allowing officers to use discretion depending on the danger to the public, traffic and weather conditions, leaving the city limits, and so on.

Officers involved in vehicle pursuits must fill out a pursuit report immediately afterward and the report will be reviewed by supervisory personnel, police said.

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