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Driver, 20, badly hurt in Berkeley Co. accident

December 19, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A 20-year-old Falling Waters, W.Va., man was critically injured Monday night when his car struck a utility pole along Apple Harvest Drive while police said he was attempting to elude a deputy who suspected he was under the influence of alcohol.

Matthew Rush, of 217 Ambler Lane, reportedly was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va., but a hospital spokeswoman said Tuesday night that Rush was not listed as a patient.

Sheriff W. Randy Smith said Tuesday night that his department had not been notified of any change in the driver's medical condition since the accident, which happened at about 11 p.m., east of Clyde Borum Road and Tinsman Lane.

Smith said Sheriff's Deputy R.L. Steerman Jr. was not engaged in a high-speed chase with Rush when his gold Chevrolet Cavalier wrecked into the pole and an embankment.

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Two adult "acquaintances" riding in the vehicle with Rush did not require immediate hospital treatment after they fled on foot from the accident site, Smith said.

The individuals confirmed to investigating deputies that Rush had been drinking alcohol before the accident, police said. Smith said they were not charged.

Authorities later determined Rush was wanted on forgery charges by authorities in Winchester, Va.

Smith said Steerman was about to stop the vehicle for suspected DUI when it turned onto a private drive.

The vehicle then turned around, but by the time Steerman changed direction on Apple Harvest Drive toward Martinsburg to catch up with Rush, the vehicle was out of his sight, Smith said.

"He saw a flash," Smith said of the apparent transformer explosion that happened after the vehicle struck the utility pole. The collision caused a power outage for about 3 1/2 hours in the area, including the intersection of W.Va. 45 and Interstate 81, police said.

Smith estimated the distance between where the deputy turned around and the wreck site was about a mile.

Sgt. William Henderson gave first aid to Rush at the accident scene and is the investigating officer for the wreck, which remains under investigation, police said.

Police said in a news release that Rush was ejected from the vehicle.

Anyone with information may contact the Sheriff's Department at 304-267-7000 or Berkeley County Crime Solvers at 304-267-4999.

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