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Police pursuit through W.Va. ends with death of Md. motorcyclist

July 10, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

JEFFERSON COUNTY, W.Va. -- A Maryland motorcyclist who died in a crash with a police cruiser after leading officers on a chase through Berkeley and Jefferson counties early Wednesday was driving at speeds of 75 mph to 90 mph on W.Va. 9 and U.S. 340, a West Virginia State Police spokesman said.

Frank Alton Biddinger, 49, of 26904 Howard Chapel Drive in Damascus, died after his black Harley-Davidson motorcycle struck the rear of a cruiser being driven by Jefferson County Sheriff's Department Cpl. Vincent Tiong on U.S. 340, police said.

Tiong and another officer were traveling in front of Biddinger near Bakerton Road and were slowing down in an attempt to stop him when Biddinger tried to pass Tiong's cruiser and hit it, according to Lt. Dave Colbert of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department.

Biddinger was suspected of drinking and driving because officers could smell alcohol on his breath before he died, police said.

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The pursuit began at 1:19 a.m. when state police Sgt. K.E. Plumer initiated a traffic stop for speeding in a highway construction area on W.Va. 9 near the Opequon Bridge, according to a West Virginia State Police news release.

The motorcyclist continued on W.Va. 9 past the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and was making hand signals as if he was going to pull over, state police 1st Sgt. Eric Burnett said.

The motorcyclist pulled over on Short Road near the Comfort Suites motel but continued east on W.Va. 9, Burnett said.

Plumer was joined in the chase by officers from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department and the Ranson and Charles Town police departments, state police said.

The motorcycle exited W.Va. 9 at the interchange with U.S. 340 near Charles Town and went north on U.S. 340, Burnett said.

The motorcyclist had slowed down when Tiong and another officer passed it and attempted to further slow it down near Bakerton Road, Colbert said.

The motorcyclist attempted to go around the left side of Tiong's car and struck it, Colbert said.

Police said in a news release that Biddinger was wanted in Frederick, Md., on charges of failure to appear for driving suspended, driving revoked, and hit and run.

After speaking with the Montgomery County (Md.) Police Warrants Division, officials discovered that Biddinger had active warrants on the following charges: resisting arrest, attempt by driver to elude a uniformed police officer by failing to stop, attempt by driver to elude police in an official police vehicle by failing to stop, driving motor vehicle on highway on a suspended license and driving motor vehicle on revoked license, state police said.

Although Burnett said he and his department's internal affairs section will investigate the chase to make sure Plumer followed department guidelines, it appears Plumer followed procedures.

Colbert said it appears Tiong followed the sheriff's department's guidelines on pursuits, although the incident will be reviewed.

Burnett said his department will review videotapes of the incident that came from Plumer's car and from Ranson Police, Charles Town Police and Jefferson County Sheriff's Department cruisers as part of its investigation.

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