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Area man charged after high-speed pursuit

December 03, 2002|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A man accused of leading police on a 120 mph pursuit on Thanksgiving Day was charged Monday with a felony child neglect charge, because police allege that an infant was in the car at the time of the chase.

Curtis Lee Smith, 22, of Tamarack Street in Martinsburg, also faces charges of speeding, fleeing in a vehicle, improper passing and passing on the right, all misdemeanors.

The incident started around 1:17 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, when West Virginia State Police Trooper T.L. Lind spotted a vehicle going 90 mph in a 55 mph construction zone on Interstate 81, according to court records.

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Lind started pursuing the vehicle south toward Virginia. The driver did not yield to Lind's lights or siren, and did not pull over when Lind put his arm out of his cruiser's window, ordering him to stop, court records allege.

Speeds reached 110 to 120 mph, Lind said.

At the Inwood, W.Va., exit, Smith got off the Interstate and started heading west on W.Va. 51. He then turned onto Gold Miller Road, heading south, records show.

After Smith crossed into Virginia, police there were notified and Lind slowed down and backed off, records show.

As he followed behind the car, a Nissan Maxima, Lind saw the driver pull into a field. When Lind approached the car, the driver was gone, leaving behind a woman in the front passenger seat, and a 20-month-old infant, the woman's son, in the back seat, records say.

Police were not able to find the driver at the scene.

Two days later, on Saturday, Nov. 30, Lind was at the sheriff's department for unrelated reasons when he spotted Smith - who had just been arrested and eventually charged in a separate pursuit - get out of a deputy's car, records show.

Smith remains in the Eastern Regional Jail, facing charges from both pursuits.

A conviction on a charge of child neglect carries a sentence of from one to five years in prison.

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