High-speed chase leads to arrest


PHILIPPI — A Barbour County man is in custody after allegedly leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase before crashing into a Preston County Sheriff’s Office cruiser.

Jonathan Andrew Swiger, 29, of Belington, is charged with one felony count of fleeing from an officer. He is incarcerated at Tygart Valley Regional Jail on a $20,000 cash or surety bond, set by Barbour County Magistrate Kathi McBee.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Barbour County Magistrate Court, Patrolman 1st Class T.L. Harris, of the Belington Police Department, was observing traffic Monday on Locust Street in Belington when he observed a white Ford Focus with a right registration light and half of a high-mount brake light burned out.

The driver continued on Locust Street and when Harris attempted to perform a traffic stop of the vehicle, the driver sped up to approximately 40 mph and turned onto Willow Street in Belington.

Harris radioed to Barbour County 911 Communications the he was pursuing the vehicle, the complaint states.

The driver ran a stop sign at the intersection of Willow Street and Stringtown Road and turned right onto Stringtown Road.

Harris continued to pursue the vehicle at a high rate of speed before the driver ran the stop sign intersecting W.Va. Rt. 92 and Stringtown Road.

While failing to yield the stop sign, the driver of the Ford Focus nearly collided with Chief Deputy Ricky Hymes, of the Barbour County Sheriff’s Office. Hymes said he had to move his cruiser to the opposite lane to avoid being struck by the driver of the Ford Focus.

Hymes and Trooper 1st Class J.M. Tallman, of the West Virginia State Police, began pursuing the vehicle north on Rt. 92 where speeds varied from 70 to 100 mph, according to the complaint.

The pursuit continued into Preston County where Preston County Sheriff’s Office deputies attempted to use stop sticks at the U.S. 250 and Rt. 92 intersection in Preston County, but the driver turned right onto Grape Run Road. The driver continued on that road until striking a Preston County Sheriff’s Office cruiser head-on.

Once the vehicle was stopped following the crash, three individuals were removed from the vehicle and identified. The driver of the vehicle was identified as Swiger, according to the complaint. After Swiger was placed into custody, Harris discovered Swiger had a suspended driver’s license with an effective date of Sept. 27, according to the complaint.

Swiger is charged with one felony count of fleeing with reckless indifference and one felony count of driving suspended for DUI, third offense in Preston County. He is incarcerated on a $30,000 cash or surety bond on those charges.