(WFXR) — A North Carolina woman is facing numerous charges — including vehicular homicide — after leading authorities on a chase across multiple Southside Virginia localities and crashing in Patrick County on Friday.
According to Virginia State Police, Park Rangers found a woman inside an unoccupied, unrented cabin in Staunton River State Park in Halifax County. She left the cabin, got into her vehicle, and sped away from the scene, followed by Law Enforcement Rangers.
As the vehicle left the state park, police say members of the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office pursued the vehicle and tried to contain the vehicle, but the suspect vehicle “forcefully exited the vehicle containment” and hit a deputy’s vehicle.
Even though Halifax County deputies stopped their pursuit, the Patrick County Sheriff’s Office says the suspect continued to drive recklessly through Pittsylvania County and Danville, continuing west on U.S. Route 58 into Martinsville.
After multiple law enforcement agencies were notified of the pursuit, the suspect vehicle was spotted in Martinsville at approximately 12:52 p.m. on Friday, April 8, Virginia State Police say. Members of the Martinsville Police Department tried to stop the suspect vehicle, which refused to stop and ended up leading the chase through Henry County.
According to officials, the Patrick County 911 center received a call around 1 p.m. that Martinsville police officers and Virginia state troopers were following a 2010 Toyota Corolla driving recklessly at high speeds on U.S. Route 58 while crossing from Henry County into Patrick County.
“It was blatantly obvious that she was not going to stop her erratic and reckless behavior,” Patrick County Sheriff Dan Smith said, adding that the suspect’s speeds were too high to employ a ‘Pursuit Intervention Technique’ maneuver when the pursuit entered Patrick County.
Patrick County deputies and state troopers reportedly made multiple attempts to disable the suspect vehicle with spike strips, but the suspect avoided them each time. Eventually, the Patrick County Sheriff’s Office says deputies shut down the intersection at Walmart in order to prevent a crash amid the pursuit.
Then, at approximately 1:18 p.m., as the 2010 Toyota was being pursued west on Route 58, it came through the Walmart intersection, crossed the median, veered into the eastbound lanes near Patrick County Family Practice, and collided with a 2005 Toyota Corolla head-on, according to authorities.
Virginia State Police say the suspect in the 2010 Toyota — 41-year-old Christine S. Barnette of Cary, N.C. — was flown to Roanoke Memorial Hospital after being injured in the crash.
Meanwhile, the driver of the 2005 Toyota — identified by officials as 81-year-old Bobby Wayne Gammons of Mount Airy, N.C. — was wearing his seatbelt, but he died at the scene.
Police tell WFXR News that Barnette is facing the following charges:
- Breaking and entering
- Reckless driving
- Defrauding an innkeeper
- Felony eluding police
- Vehicular homicide
“The reckless, careless and selfish actions of one person took the life of a totally innocent person today, and that is sickening,” Smith stated. “The law enforcement officers from the three agencies involved did everything possible to try and prevent the tragedy that occurred today. Our hearts are broken for the innocent life that was lost.”
The Virginia State Police Crash Reconstruction Team and Virginia State Police’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation helped with the crash, which is still under investigation, officials say.