MANNINGTON, W.Va. — A Mannington man is in custody after eluding police during a pursuit earlier this week.
On Nov. 10, officers with the Mannington Police Department were stationed at the entrance of Huey Park in Mannington and observed a vehicle cross the center lane on Flaggy Meadow Road and swerve into the oncoming lane, according to a criminal complaint.
Officers pulled onto the road and began to approach the vehicle after it performed a u-turn, stopping their cruiser 50 feet from the car when it was turned sideways in the road, in both lanes of traffic, officers said.
The vehicle, which officers were able to identify as an older model Jeep Cherokee, continued making its u-turn, then backed up to let officers through, but police kept their cruiser stopped in the road, according to the complaint.
The Jeep flashed its brights a few times, at which point officers activated their emergency lights and siren on the police cruiser, officers said. The Jeep then paused for a few seconds and began to slowly approach the police cruiser, turning off all its lights in the process, according to the complaint.
As the Jeep passed the police cruiser, officers were able to identify the driver as Austin Gump, 23, of Mannington, wearing a dark winter hat and dark hooded sweatshirt/jacket; there was also a passenger in the vehicle, and both put down their heads in an attempt to hide their identity from the officers, officers said.
Officers then turned around and noticed Gump had no intention of stopping, so they once again activated their emergency lights and siren, and as Gump and officers reached an intersection at Meadow Avenue and Laurel Drive, another car was approaching, so officers slowed down to allow Gump to take the safer path, according to the complaint.
Gump then started travelling up Meadow Avenue, increasing his speed and going at least 48 miles per hour in the 25 mile-per-hour zone, officers said. The pursuit continued onto Sycamore Avenue, which is a single-lane residential street with a posted 15 mile-per-hour limit and is “in a state of disrepair with many potholes and bumps,” according to the complaint.
Officers observed Gump’s Jeep “moving all over” … “from side to side bouncing and hitting the potholes,” as the pursuit reached speeds of at least 50 miles per hour and still gaining speed, officers said.
The pursuit continued on Sycamore towards an old railroad bed as Gump attempted to slow down to make a turn onto the dirt road of the railroad bed, during which time officers tried to disable the Jeep to end the pursuit, according to the criminal complaint.
Officers were unable to make contact with Gump’s Jeep, however, because as they attempted to his his vehicle, they struck a large rock which caused “catastrophic damage” to the cruiser and forced officers across the trail where they came to rest on top of another rock, officers said.
The pursuit ended at that time, with officers calling in for back-up and a tow truck to conduct a crash report, according to the complaint.
Gump is charged with fleeing from an officer. He is being held in North Central Regional Jail on $40,012 bond.