Police arrest man they say was the driver in 2022 pursuit that ended in a wreck with two people ejected

BUCKHANNON – A Rock Cave man was arrested for allegedly fleeing from police officers in a vehicle, injuring himself and a passenger.

Elijah Carpenter, 27, of Rock Cave was arrested Thursday for fleeing from an officer and fleeing or attempting to flee from law enforcement while under the influence. His arrest comes five months after another man — who police now believe was the passenger, not the driver — was arrested for the same wreck.

According to the criminal complaint in the Upshur County Magistrate Clerk’s Office, on Sept. 29, 2022, patrolmen James Fisher and Jonathan Warner, both of the Buckhannon Police Department, were parked at Hi-Tech Auto & Tire in Buckhannon when they saw an SUV pull out of the Kanawha Lounge parking lot and stop in front of the bar. The driver went inside briefly and then returned to the vehicle, accelerating “rapidly and at a high rate of speed towards West Main Street.”

The SUV eventually ended up headed south on Route 20. After it allegedly almost struck a pickup truck and accelerated to nearly 60 mph, Fisher turned on his lights and sirens to pull the vehicle over. Fisher notes he was going about 80 mph as he passed Marion Street.

According to the report, the vehicle ran the red light in front of Kroger and overtook a pickup truck past the middle school before reaching speeds of approximately 100 miles per hour. The chase continued at 100 mph past Buckhannon-Upshur High School until the SUV crashed near Good Hope Tabernacle Church.

“We observed the vehicle bouncing and spinning out of control,” Fisher wrote in the complaint.

The officers radioed for EMS, and Fisher approached the vehicle. After seeing nobody inside, Fisher pulled out his gun and ran around the SUV, where he found Cody Alan ‘Gage’ Lane, who would later be identified as the passenger.

“The passenger ejected from the vehicle and was unconscious, bleeding from the head and had lacerations on his back with a bone protruding from his right thumb,” Fisher wrote.

As Fisher began to prepare the scene for EMS, another person was found.

“Patrolman Warner noticed another subject face-down against the guard rail, ejected from the SUV,” Fisher wrote. “I then advised Com Center two people were ejected from the SUV. The driver was identified as Elijah Paul Carpenter.”

Carpenter was “unconscious, bleeding from the head and had lacerations on his back,” Fisher wrote.

After Carpenter woke up, Fisher asked him how many people were in the SUV, to which he stated two. The officers also asked if he was in the passenger seat or driving, to which he replied that he was the passenger.

At this point, Lane began sitting up and asked if “Elijah was alright,” according to the complaint. Fisher asked, “Was he your passenger?” to which he replied, “Yeah.”

However, officers now believe Lane was attempting to lie to take the blame for Carpenter, the report states.

Both subjects were transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital.

On Oct. 5, 2022, a search warrant was signed for Carpenter’s medical records and it was determined he had an approximate BAC of .202, the report states.

Officers also received several phone and message communications that indicated Carpenter was the driver, including a call to the owner of the SUV, who was an inmate at Tygart Valley Regional Jail.

“I f****d up bad last night,” Carpenter allegedly said in the call, which Fisher received from TVRJ. “I was drunk and running from the law and wrecked your car and about killed Gage; he has two vertebrae in his back cracked, and he’s all messed up. He’s got road rash and got ejected out. I’ll buy you a new car or fix it if I can. I can’t remember nothing. I thought we rolled; they said we just hit the bank and got ejected. I was going like 100mph.”

“Jesus Elijah, you gotta stop drinking and driving,” the SUV owner told Carpenter.

“I’m done,” he allegedly replied. “I’ll never drink in my life. I don’t know if we’ll get in trouble or not; we told them we were both laying on the ground, so they didn’t know who was driving. We both told them we couldn’t remember or know where we came from. I don’t know how that’s going to work out.”

Bail was set at $75,000 cash only by Upshur County Magistrate Alan Suder.

The potential penalty for fleeing from officer is confinement in a state correctional facility for not less than one year and not more than five years and a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $2,000. The potential penalty for fleeing or attempting to flee from law enforcement while under the influence is confinement in a state correctional facility for not less than three years, nor more than 10 years.

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