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Posted May 7, 2012 | comments 7 Comments

Trooper had halted cycle chase

State police: Pursuit ended before crash that killed two

By Joe Beck -- jbeck@nvdaily.com

Virginia State Police released more details Monday of a continuing investigation into a motorcycle crash late Friday that took the lives of two on U.S. 11 in Frederick County.

State police spokesman Corrine Geller said Senior Trooper K.L. Myers, who had begun chasing the motorcycle on I-81, was stopped at the intersection of U.S. 11 and Welltown Road when the motorcycle crashed into a minivan at the next intersection up the road.

Jared R. Toothman, 26, of Capon Bridge, W.Va., and JenaLee C. McGrane, 21, also of Capon Bridge, were thrown from the 2002 Honda CBR600 motorcycle and died at the scene.

Two adults and four children in the minivan were treated for minor injuries, state police said.

Geller said eyewitness reports led investigators to estimate the motorcycle was traveling more than 70 mph when it crashed into the van, ending a chase that lasted one minute and covered two miles.

Geller said the chase began in the northbound lane of I-81 between the 317 and 318 mile markers shortly before 10:30 p.m. She said Myers attempted to stop Toothman for traveling 85 mph in a 70 mph zone, a speed classified at reckless driving under state law.

She said Toothman sped away, took exit 317 and ran three red lights before hitting the minivan, a 2005 Pontiac Montana.

"Our policy is not to run red lights," Geller said in explaining why Myers had stopped his pursuit at the time of the accident.

Geller said a follow up investigation by the State Police Accident Reconstruction Team revealed that Toothman was riding without a valid motorcycle operator's license and that the motorcycle was improperly registered. She said investigators have also concluded that alcohol was a factor in the crash.

State police pursuit policies require dispatchers to inform a supervisor when a chase has begun, but Friday's night pursuit ended before the dispatcher had enough time to dial the supervisor's phone number.

"However, a supervisor was notified upon its conclusion," she said.

No information was available on the number of fatalities so far this year involving pursuits by Virginia State Police. Available agency data shows state police pursuits led to single deaths in four of the previous five years, the lone exception being four deaths recorded in 2008.

In 2011, there were 193 state police pursuits statewide that led to 41 accidents, 19 injuries, a single death and the arrests of 110 drivers, according to agency data.

"Pursuits only occur when and because a motorist makes a conscious decision to break the law by fleeing a law enforcement officer," Geller said.

7 Comments |

    The drivers who try to be responsible while behind the wheel have one less violater to contend with. I am thankful no inocent people were taken by this habitual offender. I am sure the woman on the cycle with him had to be aware of his behavior. As adults we must learn to avoid dangerous people places or situations.

      As adults we also have to be aware of what we are saying. 2 families have lost 2 people who they loved. Instead of being all "high and mighty" take a second and think about how you would feel if this was your son. People make mistakes. Would you want creeps sitting and writing about him? I highly doubt it. Let's think before we speak. And 2 innocent lives were taken way to soon. No matter what anyone says, no one deserves to die like that. 2 innocent lives were taken on Friday night.

    The drivers who try to be responsible while behind the wheel have one less violater to contend with. I am thankful no inocent people were taken by this habitual offender. I am sure the woman on the cycle with him had to be aware of his behavior. As adults we must learn to avoid dangerous people places or situations.

    I put a lot of thought in before I type a comment. As stated in the other story, I would feel ashamed and embarrassed that my loved ones died during the commission of a crime. They were not innocent, both had criminal records and both were killed while actively engaged in criminal behavior. These people don't get it; they get off time after time in the courts, but the street always wins.

    My prayers are with Trooper Meyers and the hundreds of other law enforcement officers that have to deal with these fools every day!

    I agree...they made the conscious decision to flee, however think about their families and what posts like this make them feel like. I don't see any "good guys" on here. All I see are bullies who do not have ANYTHING better to do than sit online and comment about people's heartache. As my username says "eat it"

      Thanks you Eat it. I don't know the people that died, but it makes me sick that there are people on here that can sit on the soapbox and spout pure ignorance. So terrible. Not everyone makes the right choices in life, they do not deserve to die. These people were not murderers or rapists or child abusers. It IS sad that they died EVEN if it was their own fault. AND it is DISGUSTING for the nasty bullies on here act like they got what they deserved.


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