A driver, who police said led them on a high-speed chase on Sunday night from Charles Town, West Virginia, through Clarke and Frederick counties and Winchester and struck two police cruisers, was arrested after officers rammed her car off the road.
Charles Town police were attempting to stop the driver, who they suspected of driving under the influence, according to Chief Deputy Travis M. Sumption of the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office. Sumption said on Wednesday that Charles Town police contacted his department at 9:16 p.m. Sunday about a driver fleeing southbound on Lord Fairfax Highway (U.S. 340) in a four-door Toyota sedan.
Clarke County deputies took over the chase after the driver crossed into Virginia. Sumption said the chase reached speeds of at least 80 mph. The driver turned west onto Harry Flood Byrd Highway (Va. 7), where deputies Scott Ermerins and Jacob Kennedy tried to box the driver in. However, Sumption said the driver struck their cruisers and continued driving.
The pursuit continued into Frederick County and Winchester, with police from those jurisdictions as well as state police joining the chase. The driver fled east on John Mosby Highway (U.S. 50) and ran over tire deflation devices set down by Frederick County Sheriff’s Office deputies at the Clarke/Frederick line, but continued to flee.
While on U.S. 50 near U.S. 340, Kennedy performed a pursuit intervention technique maneuver on the Toyota. The PIT, also known as the precision intervention technique, involves an officer using the front bumper of their cruiser to strike the rear bumper of a fleeing vehicle, causing the vehicle to go into a controlled spin and stop.
The PIT can be risky because vehicles that are struck can spin out of control and flip. The Washington Post reported in August that nine people have died nationally this year in crashes involving the PIT. They are among 30 who have died in PIT crashes since 2016 with hundreds of people injured, including officers.
But Sumption said the PIT on Sunday was executed safely. He said it was the first done by the Sheriff’s Office. Deputies began practicing them last year.
The driver was identified as Tina Marie Saiz Smallwood, 52, of the 200 block of Castlebridge Court in Frederick County. Saiz Smallwood was arrested and charged with eluding police, reckless driving and two counts of assaulting an officer.
She was being held without bond at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center on Wednesday night and is due in Clarke County General District Court at 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 2.