Saturday police chase ends in crash

PARKERSBURG — One man was arrested and a passenger injured after a high-speed chase Saturday night that started in Parkersburg ended with a rollover crash in Ritchie County.

Jole Seth Echard, 19, of 1337 St. Marys Ave., Parkersburg, was arrested on two counts of fleeing with reckless indifference and was released on a $10,000 bond, according to Wood County Magistrate Court records.

“Additional charges are pending,” Parkersburg Police Chief Joe Martin said, noting the Ritchie County detachment of the West Virginia State Police is investigating the crash itself.

According to a release from Parkersburg Police, an officer attempted to stop Echard’s tan Toyota Camry around 10:17 p.m. Saturday while it was driving, without headlights, in the area of 16th and Beaver streets. Echard reportedly accelerated onto Spring Street and eventually made his way to 19th Street, traveling at more than 100 mph. The chase continued onto U.S. 50, where a Wood County Sheriff’s deputy joined the pursuit.

“I don’t know why he chose to run from the police, but he was not wanted” for a crime at that point, Martin said.

According to a criminal complaint filed by the deputy, once the pursuit passed the Interstate 77 on-ramp, Echard accelerated to nearly 125 mph. He entered a one-lane construction zone near U.S. 50 mile post 16, still traveling about 110 mph and forcing one vehicle off the road to avoid a collision.

A state trooper began following when the pursuit crossed into Ritchie County, the complaint says.

As the driver approached Myers Fork Road, he lost control, and the vehicle rolled multiple times, it says.

Echard fled from the vehicle and hid in the brush along the road before being taken into custody, the complaint says.

A female occupant of the car suffered multiple injuries and was taken by helicopter to Charleston Area Medical Center General Hospital, the Parkersburg Police criminal complaint says. Her condition was not immediately available Monday evening.

Echard was taken to Camden Clark Medical Center, where he was treated and released.

Parkersburg Police and the sheriff’s office each charged Echard with one count of fleeing with reckless indifference. Martin said he expects Echard’s medical records to be subpoenaed to determine what substances, if any, were in his system at the time of the pursuit.