Chase covers three counties

By David Hedges, Publisher

A man wanted in Ohio led police on a chase through three counties before he tried to flee on foot.

Police said the chase came to an end after the man ran from his truck and jumped over a rock ledge. He landed with a broken leg.

As many as 12 cruisers from three counties were involved in the chase that started in Clay County, traveled through Calhoun County and ended in Roane County. More cruisers were responding from Kanawha County when the chase ended after about 50 miles.

Police said David M. Burkhammer, 27, of the Akron area was wanted in Ohio after leaving a detention facility where he was serving a sentence for felonious assault.

He had been staying with relatives in Clay County, according to Deputy Mike King of the Roane Sheriff's Dept.

Burkhammer was driving a 1989 Ford F-150 pickup when State Police stopped him in a routine road check near the Big Otter interchange of I-79 in Clay County Friday night. Passengers in the truck included his mother-in-law, the owner of the truck; his wife, whom police said was seven months pregnant; his 5-year-old daughter and his dog, a Jack Russell Terrier named "Lucky."

Police said Burkhammer came to a stop at the road check, but before he could produce his license and registration, took off at a high rate of speed.

Police said Burkhammer's wife and mother-in-law allegedly asked him to pull over and let them out, but he told them just to "hold on."

The chase continued along W.Va. 16 into Calhoun before Burkhammer got to Arnoldsburg and headed west on U.S. 33/119 toward Spencer.

King and another deputy, Mathew "Bo" Williams, took their cruisers to Corder Bridge at the Roane/Calhoun line to try to intercept the vehicle.

Williams had already crossed the bridge and King was driving his cruiser, a 2007 Dodge Charger, across the bridge when Burkhammer entered the bridge from the opposite side. The truck hit the front of the cruiser on the driver's side, spinning the police car in the opposite direction so it was headed back toward Spencer.

"We hadn't made it halfway across the bridge when he hit us head-on," said King, who estimated Burkhammer's speed at 40 mph at the time of the collision.

King and his passenger, Spencer Patrolman Charles Stroud, were not injured and joined in the chase along with Williams and officers from Clay and Calhoun counties.

King said the parade of police cars following the truck came through Spencer around 11 p.m. as Burkhammer turned onto Black Walnut Avenue and headed south on U.S. 119.

State Police supervisors in Kanawha County asked their officers to let local police take the lead, King said, so he took his damaged cruiser to the front of the line.

An off-duty trooper set up "spike strips" on U.S. 119 near the entrance to Roane County High School in an attempt to flatten the tires of the truck and slow the vehicle, but Burkhammer drove onto the berm to avoid the strips.

The chase continued through Speed, Gandeeville and Walton, King said, with Burkhammer running oncoming vehicles off the road in several instances.

King said Burkhammer began to lose control in some sharp turns south of Walton, near the intersection with McKown's Creek Road.

His truck began sliding on some gravel before King managed to get his cruiser in front of the truck to force it off the road. Burkhammer's truck struck the cruiser again, this time in the passenger side door.

Burkhammer jumped out of the truck and began running on foot. He jumped over a guardrail, not knowing what was on the other side.

"He went over a rock ledge that was 12 to 15 feet high," King said.

Burkhammer landed on some rocks in the creek below, shattering his right leg in several places.

He was taken by ambulance to Roane General Hospital and then transferred to Marietta Memorial Hospital for surgery. King said police escorted the ambulance to the Ohio state line.

Burkhammer's pregnant wife was kept at Roane General that night for observation, King said. Emergency workers also checked out his mother-in-law and his daughter, whom King said was on the floor of the truck during the chase.

Stroud was treated at the Roane General emergency room for minor injuries to his arm after the cruiser he was riding in was struck in the passenger-side door.

King said Burkhammer will not be arrested until he is released from the hospital, but he is facing six felony charges including two counts each of kidnapping, child neglect creating the serious risk of injury and malicious assault on a police officer.

He is also facing a number misdemeanor charges including 10 counts each of reckless driving and failure to keep right as well as charges of hit and run, fleeing in a vehicle, driving on a suspended license, speeding and several other traffic violations.


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