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Chase ends in accident, injuries and fire

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By Tom Wilmoth

An attempt at a traffic stop last Thursday in Bedford County led to a seven-mile chase ending with the car being pursued flipped over and the driver and passenger injured, according to the Virginia State Police.

Trooper M.D. Mayhew said he had attempted to stop the vehicle on Route 43 north near Northside Building Supply for several traffic violations when the chase ensued. He had been patrolling in that area at the time.

According to his report, the vehicle was traveling on Jopling Road toward Va. 122 during the pursuit. The car, Mayhew said, entered a curve at a high rate of speed when the driver lost control and ran off the right side of the roadway.

The vehicle traveled over a steep embankment, struck a rock, overturned on its side and caught fire. Both occupants were trapped inside the vehicle. The accident occurred about 3:45 p.m.

"As soon as it wrecked it caught on fire," Mayhew said.

Mayhew got the driver and passenger out of the 1994 Chevrolet sedan. "The vehicle was on its side," he said. "I got the door open and pulled both of the victims out. ...I knew if they didn't get out they would burn up."

He then got a fire extinguisher out of his cruiser.

"After I got them to safety, I was able to get the fire out," Mayhew said, noting the fire was in the area of the motor.

Mayhew said the chase began after he tried to stop the vehicle for several traffic violations. "The driver didn't have a driver's license," he said.

Both the driver and the passenger were 18 years old. MedFlight III took the passenger, who had serious injures, to Lynchburg General Hospital. The driver was also transported to the hospital for treatment.

Mayhew said charges were pending in the case.