BUCKHANNON – An Upshur County man was arrested Wednesday evening after allegedly fleeing from an officer and crashing his car into a residence on Buckhannon Mountain Road this summer.
Christopher Cochran, 43, of Buckhannon, was arrested for fleeing with reckless indifference, a felony; driving while suspended third offense, a misdemeanor; and possession of stolen property, a misdemeanor.
According to the criminal complaint in the Upshur County Magistrate Clerk’s Office filed by investigating officer Lt. Marshall Powers with the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office, on Aug. 21, 2021, Powers was stationary in a marked cruiser in the parking lot of the church at the intersection of Brushy Fork and Stoney Run Road.
Powers observed a small dark car traveling west on Stoney Run. The car stopped at the stop sign, turned left onto Brushy Fork Road, then took the immediate right onto Spruce Fork Road, again heading west. Powers noticed the car had a very loud exhaust, and he attempted to perform a traffic stop on the vehicle for defective equipment.
According to the report, while attempting to catch up to the car, Powers saw it traveling at a high rate of speed. The officer eventually caught up to the vehicle at the Sauls Run intersection. The car turned right, and Powers activated his emergency lights, at which time the car allegedly accelerated and fled from Powers at a high rate of speed. The car almost crashed in a right turn, leaving skid marks on the road, the report states.
The vehicle continued to gain distance, and once Powers got to the intersection with U.S. Route 33, he did not see which direction it turned. However, he did see a small car traveling west that appeared to be accelerating very quickly, according to the report.
Powers turned onto Route 33 and traveled several miles with no contact with the car. But then the Upshur County E-911 Communications Center advised him that a vehicle had just hit a residence on the Buckhannon Mountain Road, and although the driver fled on foot, a passenger was still present.
Powers, along with several other officers, arrived on scene and saw a 1998 Ford Mustang sitting against the front of the residence on Buckhannon Mountain Road. According to the report, the car lost control and ran off the road on the right, went into the ditch, came back across the road and traveled through yard, where it struck the front of the residence, causing damage to the underpinning, front porch and gas grill.
Powers spoke with the passenger of the car, who allegedly told him that Cochran was driving. The passenger told the officer that he lives in Weirton and the defendant had been living with him, where they both work. They had come to Buckhannon to visit someone and were headed back when the incident occurred, the passenger said.
According to the passenger, Cochran said “he couldn’t go back” when the police cruiser was chasing them. The passenger allegedly attempted to get Cochran to stop so he could at least get out of the car and said he was afraid he was going to die.
The report states that Cochran’s driver’s license is currently suspended, and he has two prior driving while suspended convictions on Dec. 7, 2020, and May 12, 2021. The license plate on the car was reported stolen Aug. 2, 2021. Powers recovered Cochran’s driver’s license, Social Security card, birth certificate and temporary registration card from the car, all displaying his name.
On Aug. 23, 2021 Upshur County Magistrate Alan Suder issued a warrant for Cochran, who was eventually arrested Wednesday, Oct. 27 and booked in the Northern Regional Jail that evening.
Bail was set at $15,000 cash or surety.
The penalty for a conviction of fleeing with reckless indifference is confinement in a state correctional facility for not less than one nor more than five years and a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $2,000.
Additionally, the potential penalty for driving suspended third offense is a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $500, and the potential penalty for possession of stolen property is confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year, a fine not to exceed $2,500, or both.