Man faces felony after allegedly eluding police by driving through a yard and garden

BUCKHANNON – A Buckhannon man was arrested this week after allegedly fleeing from an officer and eluding police by driving through a yard and around a residence, damaging the garden and fence.

Rodney Riley, 30, of Buckhannon, was arrested for fleeing causing property damage, leaving a scene with property damage, driving revoked for DUI, striking an unattended vehicle, and failure to obey a traffic signal.

According to the criminal complaint in the Upshur County Magistrate Clerk’s Office filed by investigating officer Cpl. P.J. Robinette with the Buckhannon detachment of the West Virginia State Police, on Monday, March 18, 2024, at approximately 11:30 p.m., Cpl. B.K. Wright and Robinette received a call from the Upshur County Communications Center in reference to a possible drunk driver who had left Meadowlands Trailer Park on Brushy Fork Road in Buckhannon in an unknown direction. The caller identified Riley and said he was operating a silver Toyota Highlander.

Robinette later observed a silver Toyota Highlander parked unoccupied in front of Go-Mart in Buckhannon, the file states. The trooper went into the Hardee’s parking lot with a clear visual of Go-Mart.

While parked at Hardee’s, at approximately 11:40 p.m., Robinette observed a white male wearing a hat, sweatshirt and boots walk out of Go-Mart and get in the driver’s seat of the suspect vehicle, according to the complaint. The vehicle allegedly took off at a high rate of speed upon entering Route 20, headed south.

Robinette wrote that he traveled at speeds in excess of 80 mph before catching up to the vehicle in front of Kroger’s, which is a 35-mph zone. He then initiated his patrol vehicle’s lights, at which point the suspect vehicle allegedly tapped its brakes before accelerating away from Robinette.

According to the complaint, the vehicle drove through a red light while taking a left-hand turn onto Tallmansville Road. Robinette then observed the suspect vehicle travel off of Tallmansville Road and onto Manning Road, at which point he lost sight of it.

While traveling past a residence on Manning Road, Robinette observed another vehicle that appeared to be parked in an awkward position. He continued a short way out Manning Road before turning around and traveling back toward the residence, where he was met by a woman and her parents, who stated a vehicle had struck her 2022 Chevrolet Trail Blazer and left the scene.

Robinette observed heavy damage to the rear passenger side of the Trail Blazer, as well as pieces of the suspect vehicle, including the Toyota emblem, lying on the ground. He followed tire tracks through the yard, which continued around the residence and back onto Manning Road, causing substantial damage to the grass and driving over a fence and through a garden, according to the report.

Several police units canvassed the area and surrounding roads to locate the suspect vehicle, to no avail.

Robinette then returned to the residence on Manning Road and viewed surveillance video that allegedly showed the suspect vehicle traveling through the yard after striking the parked vehicle and traveling out of sight moments before Robinette’s patrol vehicle was observed traveling past with its overhead lights on.

Robinette traveled to Go-Mart, contacted an employee and showed her a DMV photo of Riley. The employee said he had been in the store earlier and appeared intoxicated and smelled of alcohol, according to the complaint.

Riley’s driver’s license is revoked due to an active DUI conviction with an effective date of Oct. 17, 2023, Robinette noted in the complaint.

Bail was set at $20,000 cash or surety by Upshur County Magistrate Mark Davis.

The potential penalty for fleeing with reckless indifference is a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $2,000 and confinement in a state correctional facility for not less than one nor more than five years.

The potential penalty for fleeing in a vehicle causing property damage is a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $3,000 and confinement in jail for not less than six months nor more than one year.

The potential penalty for leaving the scene with property damage is a fine of not more than $100 or confinement for not more than 10 days.

The potential penalty for failure to obey a traffic signal is a fine of not more than $100 or confinement in jail for not more than 10 days.

The potential penalty for driving revoked for DUI is confinement in jail for a period of not less than 30 days nor more than six months and a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $500.

The potential penalty for striking an unattended vehicle is a fine of not more than $100 or confinement in jail for not more than 10 days.

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