Motorcycli­st pleads guilty in Oc­to­ber high-speed chase

Rappahannock News - - NEWS - BY ALEX SHARP VIII

A Wood­bridge man pleaded guilty in Rap­pah­hanock County Cir­cuit Court last week to lead­ing po­lice on a dan­ger­ous chase through leaf­sea­son traf­fic last Oc­to­ber on U.S. 211, a chase in which a state trooper pur­sued two mo­tor­cy­cles at speeds of 125 to 140 mph, one of them for more than 20 miles.

Com­mon­wealth’s At­tor­ney Art Goff said it was “ex­tremely lucky” no one died or was in­jured in the chase, in which one rider got away and Bran­don Dale Mor­ris, 24, did not. Mor­ris pleaded guilty last Tues­day ( June 26) to the felony charge and will be sen­tenced Sept. 10. Goff told Cir­cuit Court Judge James H. Cham­blin that there was no agree­ment to sen­tenc­ing on the charge, which car­ries a max­i­mum of five years in a state prison, or 12 months in jail, a $500 fine and up to a one-year loss of li­cense.

With Vir­ginia State Po­lice Trooper Don Corbin stand­ing by, Goff pre­sented the ev­i­dence against Mor­ris: On rou­tine pa­trol last Oct. 16, Corbin clocked two sport bikes do­ing 79 mph in a 55-mph zone on east­bound 211; when he tried to stop them, both bikes took off, Goff said, weav­ing through Satur­day morn­ing traf­fic and reach­ing speeds of more than 140 mph.

Mor­ris crossed into Culpeper County and, as the other bike con­tin­ued east, made a sweep­ing U-turn at Clevenger’s Corner, Goff said; on the po­lice cruiser’s video recorder, he said, you can see the rider turn­ing to look at the pur­su­ing ve­hi­cle be­fore speed­ing away, now headed back toward Rap­pa­han­nock County. The sport bike was fi­nally pulled over near the Amissville fire hall.

At many times dur­ing the chase, Goff said, Corbin’s speedome­ter was maxed out at 140 mph, in­di­cat­ing he was prob­a­bly ex­ceed­ing that speed.

“This is ex­tremely deadly be­hav­ior,” Goff said, “and the out­come of that chase could have been very tragic. As the two bikes are seen in the video to fly past the en­trance to Route 729, I cringed. I could just see my wife pulling out onto 211 and not see­ing them – or my neigh­bor, or my friend.”

Goff noted that both bikes passed about 50 ve­hi­cles in peak Oc­to­ber leaf sea­son traf­fic in at­tempt to elude the trooper. “They put the trooper’s life in dan­ger,” Goff said, “and Don [Corbin] has small chil­dren to go home to. Ev­ery­one who was on that route was en­dan­gered.”

Goff said ev­ery fall he hears mo­tor­cy­cles “wind­ing out” on the high­way, from his porch on Route 729 near 211. He said that there was a group of street- bike rid­ers mak­ing videos of ex­treme driv­ing in Page and Rap­pa­han­nock coun­ties and post­ing them on the In­ter­net, invit­ing other rid­ers to do the same. Goff noted that ev­ery year there are quite a few fa­tal­i­ties in both coun­ties on the road lead­ing up both sides of the moun­tain to Thorn­ton Gap.

“When it comes to dan­ger­ous mo­tor­cy­cle be­hav­ior, there will be rig­or­ous en­force­ment,” Goff said. “I’ll be ask­ing the court to put those of­fend­ers in jail or in prison if they get caught, and to take their driver’s li­censes for up to a year.”

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