Teen earns 90 days for car chase

Amber Gillenwater

March 13, 2014

GALLIPOLIS — A teen girl arrested last month after leading multiple law enforcement agencies on 18-mile chase through Gallia County was sentenced Monday in Gallia County Juvenile Court.

The 13-year-old girl, who was driving the vehicle at the time of the incident, and a friend stole the vehicle, ran away from home and then led police on a high-speed pursuit early Feb. 16.

The 13-year old girl, who is from Gallipolis, reportedly withdrew her initial denial of the charges and admitted to the theft of a motor vehicle, fleeing and eluding and the possession of a controlled substance during Monday’s hearing. She was sentenced to 90 days in the Juvenile Detention Facility in Chillicothe, with an additional six-month sentence suspended in the Department of Youth Services. She will also be subject to a period of two years of reporting to probation.

Following Monday’s hearing, Gallia County Prosecutor Jeff Adkins said the girls used poor judgment when they stole the vehicle and subsequently ran from police.

“The juvenile operating the motor vehicle used poor judgment from the time she decided to run away from home,” he said. “The theft of the vehicle and subsequent fleeing from law enforcement officers, thankfully, did not result in any serious harm to persons or property. Hopefully the sanctions imposed by the court will have an impression on this juvenile offender and she will make better decisions in the future with no involvement in the court system. It is my hope she can, upon her release, resume her life and be successful in school and be a productive citizen.”

According to the police report filed with the Gallipolis Police Department, the girls were taken into custody at approximately 2 a.m. Feb. 16 in Rio Grande after leading multiple law enforcement agencies on a chase that began in Gallipolis.

At approximately 1:40 a.m. Feb. 16, a city police officer was on patrol when she began following a gray Buick traveling north on First Avenue.

While following the vehicle, the officer reportedly observed the car travel into the left lane of traffic and drift back into the right lane before continuing on Eastern Avenue and making a quick right turn into the Walmart parking lot.

After activating her overhead lights, the officer continued to follow the Buick that did not stop or slow down and made its way back onto Eastern Avenue and accelerated.

According to the report, the fleeing vehicle attempted to make an abrupt left turn onto the U.S. 35 on-ramp at the Silver Memorial Bridge; however, the vehicle lost control and crashed into the field near the ramp. The vehicle then reportedly came back onto the ramp before traveling across the bridge into West Virginia.

Once in West Virginia, the vehicle reportedly began to travel toward Point Pleasant before making a right turn back onto the ramp for westbound on U.S. 35.

The vehicle then, again, almost lost control before continuing on U.S. 35. Once the fleeing car was back across the bridge, the driver reportedly swerved to miss stop sticks deployed by a Gallia County sheriff’s deputy and continued on toward the Ohio 160 exit.

On the Ohio 160 exit ramp, the vehicle swerved to miss a second set of stop sticks deployed by a city police officer and continued westbound on Jackson Pike and eventually onto Ohio 588 toward Rio Grande — all the while being pursued by sheriff’s deputies and city police.

A trooper with the Ohio State Highway Patrol also attempted to stop the vehicle on Ohio 588 at Bob Evans Farm in Rio Grande by deploying stop sticks. The vehicle reportedly swerved, leaving the road, and traveled past the third set of stop sticks.

The vehicle continued west on Ohio 588 and past the intersection of Ohio 325, where the pair traveled down a dead-end street. The vehicle then left the road and crashed into a fence.

The driver and passenger were both removed from the vehicle and handcuffed.

The driver was reportedly searched and a small bag of marijuana and rolling papers were located in her jeans pocket. The passenger, who appeared to be intoxicated, admitted to alcohol usage.

Both girls reported that they had stolen the vehicle from a family friend earlier that evening and had planned on running away.

The passenger was subsequently charged with complicity to fleeing and eluding and complicity to the theft of a motor vehicle, as well as underage consumption.

During a hearing last week in Juvenile Court, the passenger admitted to the charges against her and, in following the state’s recommendation, the court ordered that she serve 30 days detention for complicity to fleeing and eluding and a suspended term of six months detention for the remaining felony and misdemeanor. In addition, she was ordered to serve two years of probation, pay the court costs and receive any drug/alcohol treatment that may be necessary.

During Monday’s hearing, the driver was similarly sentenced and, in addition to her 90-day detention sentence and probation, was ordered to perform community service, to pay court costs and receive any necessary drug/alcohol treatment.

She was credited for 18 days served in detention.