Two people died in a head-on collision in Henry County on Thursday night as a North Carolina deputy ended his chase of one of the drivers.
The crash happened a little after 10 p.m. on U.S. 220, about a quarter-mile south of Virginia 87 (Morehead Avenue) in Ridgeway, said Virginia State Police 1st Sgt. E.D. Malone.
Malone said a 1995 Ford F-150 pickup struck a 2008 Dodge Caliber after traveling north in the southbound lanes for some period of time. The pickup caught fire after the impact.
The driver of the Dodge, Jennifer Courtney Thomasson, 28, of Ridgeway, was wearing a seat belt but died at the scene, said state police spokesman Sgt. Rob Carpentieri.
The driver of the Ford was not wearing a seat belt and died at the scene after being partially ejected from the truck, Carpentieri said. Malone said the man’s body was taken to the medical examiner’s office in Roanoke to be positively identified.
The Ford had sped past Rockingham County, N.C., sheriff’s Deputy J. Richardson roughly 20 minutes before the collision when the deputy noticed the “suspicious vehicle” in Stoneville, N.C., said Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Deputy Kevin Suthard. The truck raced away from Richardson “at high rates of speeds” until it entered Virginia, Suthard said.
Richardson came across the Ford again some time later back in North Carolina and tried to stop the truck, Suthard said, but the Ford sped away once more.
Richardson estimated the Ford traveled above 90 mph, Suthard said, though he noted that Rockingham County deputies don’t have radar.
“Due to the fleeing driver’s blatant disregard for public safety, approval was given for Deputy Richardson to continue the pursuit into Virginia,” he said.
Suthard said Richardson remained in a northbound lane of U.S. 220 attempting to keep the vehicle in sight with the hopes that a Virginia state trooper could take over the chase.