BUCKHANNON, W.Va. — A man has been arrested in Upshur County after a multiple county-pursuit led to his surrender.
On May 7, officers with the Elkins Police Department observed a white Toyota Camry with blue headlights speeding on Beverly 5 Lane near Elkins, according to a criminal complaint.
Officers with the Elkins Police Department attempted to perform a traffic stop on the vehicle, but its driver ignored the attempt and “began to flee at a high rate of speed,” troopers with the West Virginia State Police Department stated, and the pursuit later ended when officers lost sight of the vehicle in Beverly.
At the time of the pursuit, troopers were patrolling Coalton Road in Upshur County when they received information about a vehicle that had just come through an intersection travelling north on Colton Road “at a high rate of speed,” according to the complaint.
Troopers then traveled up Coalton Road until they came into contact with a white Toyota Camry matching the description of the speeding vehicle, whereupon they followed the sedan while awaiting additional units, troopers said.
The Camry’s driver then pulled over and waived for troopers to pass him, at which point troopers activated their cruiser’s emergency lights and siren and pulled behind the Camry; troopers then instructed the driver, identified later as Wesley Cunningham, 30, of Buckhannon, to open his door, according to the complaint.
However, Cunningham then “accelerated the vehicle at a high rate of speed” in order to flee, at which point troopers informed the Elkins communications center that Cunningham was fleeing toward W.Va. Route 151, troopers said.
The troopers who began the pursuit then began to pursue Cunningham onto Coalton Road, where he began to reach speeds exceeding 90 miles per hour until the pursuit led to Rt. 151 where Cunningham ran a stop sign and began fleeing toward Upshur County, according to the complaint.
The pursuit lasted for approximately 10 miles on Rt. 151 exceeding speeds of 100 miles per hour before Cunningham turned onto Mt. Union Road in Upshur County, where he began to travel “in the opposite lane of travel for a significant amount of time,” troopers said.
On Mt. Union Road, the pursuit reached speeds of 80 miles per hour “through heavily populated areas,” where Cunningham turned onto Ketron Road toward Burnt Bridge Road, where he passed a church and “nearly struck some children on the shoulder of the road,” according to the complaint, at which point Cunningham stopped on a gravel road.
When troopers saw Cunningham exit the Camry, they told him to stop fleeing and get on the ground, at which point he got back in his vehicle and began fleeing, once again, onto Burnt Bridge Road where he drove for three miles before coming to a stop, troopers said.
Once Cunningham exited his vehicle he began to approach troopers while having his hand in his waistband, according to the complaint, at which point troopers began giving him verbal commands to get to the ground and show his hands.
Troopers said that Cunningham said “he was done,” and “he just wanted [troopers] to ‘just do it,'”but troopers were able to talk to Cunningham until he complied and got onto the ground.
Once Cunningham was detained, he told troopers that he was fleeing because “he had been drinking did not have a license and did not feel like stopping,” according to the complaint, and when troopers searched Cunningham’s Camry, they found alcoholic beverages inside, as well as discovering that the vehicle’s registration had been cut off and that a new expiration sticker had been taped to the temporary plate.
Cunningham has been charged with fleeing with reckless indifference, fleeing while driving under the influence and fraudulent vehicle registration. He is being held in Tygart Valley Regional Jail.