WINCHESTER — When motorcyclist Garrett Vogel Baumgardner crashed after a high-speed chase with police, the impact caused Baumgardner and his passeneger to roll some 50 yards, but both avoided serious injuries.
"They must have charmed lives to be able to be sitting here," Ross P. Spicer, Frederick County commonwealth's attorney, told Judge William Warner Eldridge IV before Baumgardner was sentenced in Frederick Circuit Court Tuesday.
In a plea bargain, Baumgardner, 18, of the 200 block of Fredericktowne Drive in Stephens City, pleaded guilty to eluding police and reckless driving. Baumgardner, who was riding with his girlfriend, was sentenced to three years with 21 months suspended. As part of the agreement, a host of driving violations, including aggressive driving, reckless driving and failure to yield, were dismissed.
The chase occurred on Feb. 24 in the northbound lanes of Interstate 81 near exit 317 in Stephenson, where the speed limit is 70 mph. A state trooper tried to stop Baumgardner for an improperly mounted license plate, but he fled at over 120 mph and weaved through traffic. Spicer said some of the chase was captured on the trooper's cruiser camera including the crash, which occurred when Baumgardner exited at exit 321 in Clear Brook.
Eldridge told Baumgardner he was lucky to be alive and that he endangered his girlfriend and other drivers. Baumgardner apologized for fleeing. Eldridge sentenced Baumgardner to the midpoint of state sentencing guidelines, which recommended a minimum of probation and a maximum of six months.
Upon release, Baumgardner will be on two years of supervised probation. His driver's license is suspended for six months.