WILLIAMSON - Joseph Sturgell, 20, of Big Laurel Branch of Kermit, was arrested and charged with multiple counts, including ramming a Williamson police cruiser.
The arresting officers were Williamson Police Department Sgt. Jarrod Marcum and patrolmen Matt Tiller and Trevor Layne. Sr. Trp. R. L. Jennings of the Williamson detachment of the West Virginia State Police served the warrants. The incident occurred on the night of Saturday, Dec. 22. Sturgell turned himself into Magistrate Court on Thursday, Jan. 3.
Sturgell has been charged with attempted murder, kidnapping, speeding, reckless driving, fleeing, destruction of property and other traffic violations.
According to the criminal complaint, officers were parked in the West Williamson area when they observed a white Chevy Silverado back into the roadway near Parkway Drive without operating headlights on during nighttime hours. The vehicle stopped in the roadway for an extended time and then went onto Slater Street. The defendant then drove onto Armory Drive and, as officers approached, accelerated at a high rate of speed in an area where the posted speed limit is 15 mph.
The officers observed the driver fail to stop at posted stop signs at West Third Avenue and at the intersection of U.S. 119 and the defendant continued accelerating at a high rate of speed. The officers initiated their emergency lights and sirens to conduct a traffic stop. The driver then fled north on Corridor G at speeds in excess of 100 mph. The officers contacted Mingo County Emergency Services alerting them to the fleeing vehicle.
The officers then received contact from an occupant inside the fleeing vehicle that Sturgell would not stop and she was afraid for her safety. The officers made several attempts to relay messages advising the driver to stop the vehicle.
The pursuit continued onto U.S. 52 toward Naugatuck at a high rate of speed. The driver then turned onto W.Va. 65 and then onto Big Branch Road where Mingo County Sheriff's Deputy E. Williams continued ahead of the officers in pursuit of the fleeing vehicle.
The officers then continued ahead to an intersecting roadway with MCSD deputy L. Thomas. The officers observed the vehicle traveling an adjacent road toward their location. The defendant then stopped in the roadway. Believed that the vehicle was stuck, the officers, who were in a 4-wheel-drive vehicle, continued toward the stopped vehicle. The driver then began traveling again toward the officer's parked cruiser. The officers then parked the patrol vehicle at the top of a steep incline, unable to continue because of the road conditions.
WPD Sgt. Marcum then continued down the hill on foot to make contact with the driver. Officers began to signal the driver with flashlights to stop, but he continued driving forward approaching the incline. The driver refused to stop, accelerating up the hill and ramming the patrol vehicle, according to the criminal complaint. The officers on foot were forced to run from the roadway in fear of being struck.
The driver continued after ramming the patrol vehicle, fleeing past the deputy's patrol car. The pursuit continued until the officers were unable to follow because of road conditions.
Property damage during the incident was estimated to exceed hundreds of dollars. The suspect did not have any proof of insurance.
Sturgell was arraigned in Mingo County Magistrate Court by Donald Sansom and then taken to the Southwestern Regional Jail at Holden. His bond was then set at $30,000 by Circuit Court Judge Miki Thompson.
Kyle Lovern is editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at 304-236-3526 or via e-mail at klovern@HDMediaLLC.com