A Kenna driver was charged recently after he flooded his vehicle in a creek during a car chase and bailed out for a pursuit into the woods on foot.
Bobby Joe Davis, 38, 5837 Fisher Ridge Road, Kenna, was charged with a felony count of fleeing with reckless indifference. He also was charged with misdemeanor counts of fleeing from an officer, second-offense driving on a suspended license, improper registration, expired motor vehicle inspection, and no insurance.
Bond on the felony was set at $6,000, while bond on the misdemeanors was set at $2,000.
On Dec. 26 at 6:56 p.m., Cpl. W.F. Donohoe III of the Ripley Detachment of the West Virginia State Police was conducting a DUI patrol and heading south on Jackson County 21. Donohoe saw a blue-gray Ford Escort in the parking lot of the Kenna Volunteer Fire Department with its headlights on and the driver side door open, according to a criminal complaint.
According to the complaint, the driver of the vehicle appeared to be rolling a cigarette. The officer pulled into the next driveway to turn around, but before he could back out, the vehicle took off traveling north on Route 21 at a high rate of speed. Donohoe took off in the same direction and, as speeds approached 80-plus mph, activated the lights and sirens on his cruiser.
The vehicle continued to flee at a high rate of speed, using both lanes of travel to negotiate turns, according to the complaint. Donohoe notified the Jackson County 911 center of the pursuit.
Donohoe caught up to the vehicle as it turned right onto Grasslick Road. He noted the vehicle’s registration, but a check returned no matching records through the Division of Motor Vehicles.
The vehicle continued to flee at speeds approaching 65 mph on an unlined, two-lane road with a posted speed limit of 30 mph. The vehicle turned right onto Steerlick Road, which is a single-lane, gravel road that has several blind turns and large pot holes.
After about a mile, Steerlick Road turns into a creek with a solid rock bottom. The fleeing vehicle entered the creek at a high rate of speed and traveled about 100 yards before the engine flooded and stalled.
As Donohoe went around a slight bend in the creek, he saw the vehicle stopped and the driver getting out, according to the complaint.
The driver ran around the front of the vehicle, fell into the water, got up, and jumped over the creek bank.
Donohoe exited his cruiser and detained the passenger, who identified the driver as Davis. The passenger told Donohoe that he tried to tell the Davis to stop the vehicle.
With the passenger detained in his cruiser, Donohoe continued to look for Davis. After about an hour, Deputy C.R. Saltsgaver with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department was using handheld thermal imaging device and picked up Davis’ heat signature as he fled across a nearby field.
Officers gave chase but Davis went out of sight about 100 yards away when he jumped over an embankment and into the creek.
Davis’ tracks on the hillside across the creek led officers into the woods. While searching the area, the officers found a shoe near an old barn. They searched the barn and located Davis hiding in the loft under some loose hay.
In his written complaint, Donohoe noted “Davis was freezing from falling in the creek.”
As he was being transported to the South Charleston Detachment for processing, Davis “apologized profusely for being stupid and running. The suspect continued talking the entire time and stated he was packing a bowl when he saw the undersigned (officer) and got scared that he was going to jail,” Donohoe wrote in his report.
According to Donohoe’s complaint, Davis passenger asked him to stop multiple times to let him out.