BUCKHANNON – An Upshur County man was arrested Sunday on seven charges – five of them felonies – following a police pursuit that ended with him crashing the vehicle he was driving into a creek along Route 20 North.
Rodney Rowan, 24, of Buckhannon was arrested on one count of fleeing with reckless indifference to the safety of others, a felony; one count of being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm, a felony; one count of driving revoked for DUI, third offense, a felony; and two counts of possession with intent to deliver controlled substances (methamphetamine and ecstasy), a felony.
Rowan was also arrested for possession of marijuana less than 15 grams, or simple possession, a misdemeanor, and driving suspended, miscellaneous, also a misdemeanor.
According to the criminal complaint in the Upshur County Magistrate Clerk’s Office filed by investigating officer Senior Trooper P.J. Robinette with the Buckhannon detachment of the West Virginia State Police, on Sunday at 4:40 p.m., Robinette and state trooper J.S. Tonkin were conducting routine road patrol along Route 20 near Sheetz in Buckhannon.
While patrolling, Robinette reportedly observed a silver 2000 Ford Focus with an expired motor vehicle inspection sticker traveling north. Robinette had been traveling southbound and turned around to follow the vehicle in order to obtain a registration number.
When Robinette turned to follow the silver Ford Focus, the driver of the vehicle – later identified as Rowan – allegedly sped up and turned into the left-hand turning lane without using a turn signal.
Robinette turned on his cruiser’s lights in order to initiate a traffic stop. The vehicle then accelerated quickly and continued to drive north (the wrong way) in the southbound lane of Route 20 North, the file says.
Robinette then activated his sirens to stop the vehicle. However, the vehicle allegedly continued to flee and moved over into the northbound lane. Robinette followed the vehicle, which was allegedly traveling at speeds of over 70 mph, north on Route 20 for about two miles.
The complaint says during this time, the Ford Focus “passed several cars in no passing zones and traveled north in the southbound lane (of Route 20 North) several times.”
Robinette then reportedly observed items being thrown out of the driver’s window in a curve just past the Turkey Run intersection of Route 20 North. According to the file, the vehicle went approximately another .10 miles north before traveling off the left side of the roadway’s edge and colliding with a garage located at 2589 Clarksburg Road.
The vehicle continued to travel into the yard of the residence and collided with a telephone pole before spinning around and coming to rest a creek, Robinette wrote in the report.
The officers ran over to the vehicle and allegedly found Rowan in the driver’s seat and placed him in custody. According to the report when searching Rowan, Robinette allegedly located a small clear plastic bag containing approximately 2.59 grams of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana. Robinette then allegedly spotted a red Cobra .380 handgun in the driver’s side floorboard of the vehicle.
Rowan allegedly told officers the firearm belonged to him. Robinette ran Rowan’s name through WVSP Elkins Communications database, which confirmed Rowan’s driver’s license was suspended/revoked due to an active unpaid citation suspension with a most recent effective date of Feb. 15, 2018.
A database search of Rowan’s driver’s license also showed it had been revoked for DUI with a conviction date of March 30, 2015. Robinette was also informed of an active capias warrant issued through Upshur County Circuit Court dated Friday, Nov. 22, 2019.
Assisting investigating officers Upshur County Sheriff’s Deputy Tyler Gordon and Senior Natural Resources Police Officer Tanner Collins searched the side of Route 20 North where Rowan allegedly threw items from the vehicle.
Officers located and seized several bags containing a clear crystal-like substance believed to be methamphetamine, the weight of which amounted to over three ounces. The crystal-like substance tested “presumptive positive” for methamphetamine, the file says.
According to the report, a search of the vehicle also yielded 17 tablets, which field-tested presumptive positive for ecstasy, two sets of digital scales and several empty small plastic bags, which are commonly used in the distribution of illicit drugs.
Upon returning to the WVSP Buckhannon detachment for processing, Robinette accessed the West Virginia Supreme Court Magistrate portal and found Rowan had two prior convictions for driving revoked DUI; guilty pleas were entered on July 17, 2017.
Bail was set at $152,000, and Rowan has made bail on the driving suspended miscellaneous charge only.
The penalty for a conviction of being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm is imprisonment for up to five years in the state penitentiary, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.
A conviction of fleeing with reckless indifference to the safety of others results in a penalty of confinement for one to five years in the state penitentiary and a fine ranging between $1,000 and $2,000.
If convicted of driving revoked for DUI, third offense, Rowan would face a penalty of confinement for not less than one but not more than three years in prison and a fine ranging from $3,000 to $5,000.
A conviction of possession with intent to deliver on each count of possession with intent to deliver would result in a penalty of imprisonment for one to five years in the state penitentiary, a fine of up to $15,000 or both.
The penalty for a conviction of possession of marijuana less than 15 grams is confinement in jail for a term of 90 days to six months, a fine of no more than $1,000 or both, and the penalty for a conviction of driving suspended miscellaneous is a fine of $100 to $500.