GALLIPOLIS — One of the female juveniles who led officers on a high-speed chase last month pleaded guilty to the felony charges against her in the Gallia County Juvenile Court earlier this week, according to Gallia County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Britt T. Wiseman.
The juvenile, the passenger in the vehicle at the time of incident, reportedly assisted her friend — the driver — in stealing the vehicle and then leading police on an 18-mile chase through Gallia County.
According to the police report filed with the Gallipolis Police Department, the two 13-year old females, both of Gallipolis, 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 the city of Gallipolis.
Reportedly, a city police officer was on patrol at approximately 1:40 a.m. Feb. 16 when she began following a grayish Buick traveling north on First Avenue. The vehicle reportedly traveled into the left lane of traffic before drifting back into the right lane.
The officer continued to follow the vehicle on Eastern Avenue, where the car made a quick right turn into the Walmart parking lot. After activating her overhead lights to get the vehicle to stop, the Buick did not stop or slow down. After continuing through the parking area and then back onto Eastern Avenue, the vehicle accelerated. The officer activated her siren and began a pursuit.
The vehicle reportedly 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 and 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 U.S. 35.
According to the report, the vehicle, again, almost lost control before continuing on U.S. 35. Once the vehicle was back across the bridge, the car reportedly swerved to miss stop sticks deployed by a Gallia County sheriff’s deputy and continued on U.S. 35 to 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 then on 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 at Ohio 588 at Bob Evans Farm in Rio Grande by deploying stop sticks. The vehicle reportedly swerved, leaving the roadway, and traveled past this third set of stop sticks.
The vehicle continued west on Ohio 588 and past the intersection of Ohio 325, where they traveled down a dead-end street. The vehicle then reportedly 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 allegedly located in her jeans pocket. The passenger, who appeared to be intoxicated, admitted to alcohol usage.
Both females reported that they had stolen the vehicle from a family friend and had planned on running away.
The females were reportedly transported to juvenile court, where they were met by a juvenile probation officer. They were transported to the juvenile detention center in Chillicothe and their parents were notified.
According to Wiseman, the juvenile passenger was charged with complicity to fleeing and eluding, a third-degree felony; complicity to the theft of a motor vehicle, a fourth-degree felony; and underage consumption, a first-degree misdemeanor.
During Tuesday’s hearing in juvenile court, the passenger pleaded guilty to all three charges and, following the state’s recommendation, the court ordered that the juvenile passenger serve 30 days detention in the Department of Youth Services for complicity to fleeing and eluding and for 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 to receive any drug/alcohol treatment that may be necessary.
Following Tuesday’s hearing, Wiseman stated, “this young lady and the driver are very lucky that no one was hurt. Driving recklessly, eluding police officers, and having a complete disregard for the law and authority will not, and should not, be tolerated or taken lightly.”
Fellow Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Eric Mulford also commented on the case following the hearing.
“The felony convictions and the accompanying imposition of 30 days detention and six months DYS time at the court’s discretion will hopefully serve as a wake-up call for this young lady,” he said.
The passenger of the vehicle was also ordered to have no contact with the driver. The juvenile driver faces charges of fleeing and eluding, theft of a motor vehicle, possession of marijuana, speeding (traveling 100 mph in a 40 mph zone), no operator’s license and reckless operation.
Further information on the case against the juvenile driver will be released as it is made available.