BUCKHANNON — One local man led law enforcement on a multi county chase Wednesday, ending with the subject attempting to escape via the Stone Coal River.
According to the court documentation, at approximately 10 p.m., Upshur County Sheriff Deputies Cole Bender and Tyler Chidester were informed of an active pursuit of a dark color Toyota Tacoma coming from Lewis to Upshur County via Hackers Creek Road. Deputy Bender was stationary on Mt. Lebanon Road at the Hackers Creek intersection and was able to get in between the other unit and the vehicle being pursued at that time.
At the intersection of Route 20 and Hackers Creek Road, Deputy Chidester took the lead towards the Tacoma as it sped through Route 20 towards Buckhannon city limits. The criminal complaint stated that speeds of up to 112 miles per hour were reached. Buckhannon Police Department Sargent Tom Posey deployed “stop sticks” in an effort to stop the vehicle.
In an attempt to evade the chasing officers, the Tacoma made its way onto Brushy Fork Road. Units continued to follow the vehicle, which was throwing bits of tire behind it. After turning onto Stone Coal Road, the vehicle started to slow down letting officers get a clearer view of the compromised passenger tire. The vehicle drove into a ditch near 1025 Stonecoal Lake Road, where the driver exited the vehicle and ran behind the residential houses before jumping into the river. Court documents stated that following an approximate 100-yard foot pursuit, both Chidester and Bender were able to detain and arrest the suspect, later identified as James Robert Fisher, age 39 of French Creek.
The criminal complaint stated that Fisher allegedly appeared disoriented and uncoordinated, with a dry mouth, raspy voice and watery blood-shot eyes. After crashing the Tacoma, no field sobriety tests were completed. Upon running the W. Va. Registration, officers discovered that the documents did not match the Tacoma and instead were issued to a 1997 Jeep.
Following a search of the vehicle, a small bag of suspected methamphetamine was allegedly found on the floor by the driver seat. In addition to this, several plastic baggies, a glass smoking device with residue and traces of white powder on the driver seat were also found.
The entire event started when Lewis County officers attempted to conduct a traffic stop on the vehicle for reckless driving. The criminal complaint stated that once Fisher was detained and brought back to the officers’ cruisers, he was asked if he had been drinking. The defendant advised no but did consent to a blood drawl. Ammunition was allegedly located in a backpack inside of the vehicle, however since Fisher was involved in a crash, he was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital before a complete search could be performed.
Fisher has been charged with fleeing while driving under the influence, fleeing with reckless indifference, improper registration, fleeing on foot and possession of methamphetamine. Fisher is currently being held at Tygart Valley Regional Jail on a $30,000 cash only bond.