State Troopers Speak on Fatal Chase - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

08/18/04

State Troopers Speak on Fatal Chase

The Georgia State Patrol is speaking out, one day after a deadly chase when a car ran off the road and slammed into a tree. WTOC spoke with the state patrol, and the assistant post commander from Rincon says the trooper made the right decision to pursue the car. Unfortunately, it came to deadly end.

"It was very tragic," Sgt. Chad Riner told us. "Even though we are chasing violators out there, we don't want to see them get hurt."

Twenty-one-year-old Katie Sharp and a 17-year-old boy died after leading police on a high-speed 66-mile chase through South Carolina into Chatham County, Georgia, their car finally crashing into a tree after a Georgia State Patrol trooper used the PIT (precision immobilization technique) maneuver to stop them. Police defend the trooper's actions, calling the driver they were trying to stop a danger.

"At one point, it almost struck a pedestrian, which was a DOT worker, inside of South Carolina, and she still refused to stop in the state of Georgia," said Sgt. Riner. "At that time, it was deemed for public safety, the trooper initiated a PIT maneuver."

Sgt. Riner went on, "He followed department policy and he's at work today. No investigation is pending for any wrongdoing on him."

The police car that was actually involved in the pursuit has front end damage from where it hit the other car. Basically, how the PIT maneuver works is police take the front quarter panel of pursuit car and nudge the rear quarter panel of the car that's trying to get away. That forces the car to spin to the right and off the side of the road.

Under Georgia State Patrol's policy, troopers can use it at their own discretion. But it's often a last measure. "We don't want to pursue anyone and we don't want to work a tragic incident like this," said Sgt. Riner.

The Georgia State Patrol says Sharp was driving on a suspended license. They're still investigating. Troopers say a number of factors, like traffic and weather conditions, play into the decision to pursue a car, but ultimately they say they keep in mind their own safety and that of the rest of the community first.

Reported by: Liz Flynn, lflynn@wtoc.com

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