Local law enforcement participate in pursuit that began in Elkins

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ELKINS — A Randolph County man who led officers on a chase from Elkins to Weston Thursday night is facing multiple charges.

The incident began at 10 p.m. as Benjamin Logan Tenney, 28, of Elkins, was observed leaving the Mountaineer Mart parking lot on Davis Avenue without stopping, according to the criminal complaint from the Randolph County Magistrate Clerk’s office. Tenney was also allegedly spinning the tires of the 2002 Ford Taurus as he left the parking the lot.

Cpl. A.M. Wyshyvanuk and Patrolman T.L. Hewitt, who were in the same patrol vehicle, attempted to make a traffic stop by activating their emergency lights and siren. However, Tenney did not stop, continuing southbound until he stopped at the red light. Once the light turned green, he turned left on onto 11th Street.

Tenney stopped at another red light at the intersection with Randolph Avenue. Wyshyvanuk  approached Tenney’s vehicle on foot, knocked on the passenger door and shone his light at Tenney.

“The defendant looked at me, then ignored the red light and fled at a high rate of speed, showing reckless indifference to my safety when I was located directly adjacent to his vehicle and to the safety other motorists using the intersection,” Wyshyvanuk said in the criminal complaint.

The chase continued on Randolph Avenue and later onto Corridor H westbound. From there, Tenney would lead the Elkins police officers on a 35-mile pursuit from Elkins to Weston, according to the complaint.

The West Virginia State Police Elkins detachment joined the chase at the Barbour County line. TFC D.T. Stallings noted that Wyshvanuk reported that Tenney failed to stop at the traffic light at the intersection of Route 33/48 and West Virginia Route 92 near Elkins and had nearly collided with an uninvolved motor vehicle, according to a separate criminal complaint.

When the chase reached Upshur County, the Buckhannon Police Department and Upshur County Sheriff’s Department joined in. Stop sticks placed on Route 33 near Childers Run were not successful in stopping the car, which continued through Upshur County and into Lewis County.

Cpl. L.D. Mohr of the Weston detachment of the West Virginia State Police wrote in his criminal complaint that he responded to Sheetz in Weston to deploy addition stop sticks. Tenney’s vehicle struck the stop sticks, ran a red light and continued traveling on U.S. Route 33 but soon stopped just past the intersection of Route 33 and I-79, where Tenney was taken into custody.

Elkins police chief Glenn Galloway said that while on Route 33, the chase did not reach excessively high speeds. Tenney may have gone a few miles per hour over the speed limit, but not a large amount over.

Three cruisers from Elkins stayed with the pursuit until its peaceful conclusion in Weston.

The time of night, with little traffic, and the normal speeds allowed EPD to continue the chase, according to Galloway.

“It was on the four-lane, so we were going one way and there wasn’t a big risk of them hitting someone head-on,” he said. “Also, it was a slow speed pursuit. We were in the position that we were sitting back, we weren’t really pushing the guy.”

Since Galloway was sworn in 6 ½ months ago as Elkins’ police chief, he said this is the fourth pursuit his department has been involved in.

Galloway added that he appreciated the help of all the departments who joined in, from the WVSP to the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department and Buckhannon Police Department.

Tenney was arrested for three counts of fleeing in a vehicle with reckless indifference to the safety of others, two from Randolph County and one from Lewis County. No Upshur County charges had been filed as of Friday afternoon.

He remained in the Central Regional Jail on $75,000 bond Sunday.

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