Teen faces felony counts

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 30, 2006

RODUCO – A Lawrenceville, Va. teen faces three felony counts, including assault with intent to kill a law enforcement officer.

Quintin Stith, 18, is awaiting transfer to Central Prison in Raleigh for medical safekeeping after allegedly stealing a van and leading officers with the Gates County Sheriff’s Office on a high-speed journey along U.S. 158 late Monday afternoon.

That chase ended after GCSO Chief Deputy Billy Spruill was able to execute a maneuver that forced the stolen van off the road. However, that effort did not come without a few tense moments.

According to Gates County Sheriff Ed Webb, Spruill was joined by three other GCSO deputies in the pursuit of the suspect vehicle, reported stolen from Sunbury. The chase, reaching speeds of 90 mph, was west on U.S. 158.

“After the suspect vehicle rounded the curve in Roduco and cleared the section of homes, Chief Deputy Spruill knew the time and place was right to attempt to stop the van before it reached the busy U.S. 13 intersection at Tarheel,” Webb said.

The Sheriff continued, “Chief Deputy Spruill first attempted to pass the suspect vehicle in an effort to slow it down. As he was making the pass, the van rammed the Chief Deputy’s car in the right front fender area. But Spruill was able to recover and bumped the van in the left rear corner, causing both vehicles to spin out.”

Webb said the van ran into a wooded area and overturned while the Chief Deputy’s car stopped in a ditch.

“When we went to search the suspect vehicle, the driver was no where to be found,” Webb said. “He apparently had been thrown out when the van rolled over and was underneath the vehicle.”

The Sheriff went on to say that while Stith was not pinned by the vehicle, he still refused to come out.

“We told him we had a dog with us and Mr. Stith responded that he was coming out because he didn’t like dogs,” Webb noted.

Stith was transported by the Gates County Rescue Squad to Roanoke-Chowan Hospital where he was treated and released into the custody of GCSO Deputy Al Parker.

He was charged with felony larceny of a vehicle, felony assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill a government official, felony speed to elude arrest, reckless driving while endangering persons and property, injury to personal property, injury to county property, no operator’s license and failure to wear a seat belt.

Stith was taken to the Chowan County Jail under a $30,000 secured bond. From there he will be transported to the medical facility at Central Prison due to a hairline fracture in his leg suffered during the crash.

Spruill was not injured. However, the van n a 2002 Ford owned by Wilbur & Drewry Electrical & Plumbing of Franklin, Va. n was a total loss. The GCSO vehicle suffered $2,500 in damages.

GCSO reports show the van was allegedly stolen by Stith from the parking lot of a Sunbury convenience store. There, the driver of the van, Wendell Nichols Jr. of Franklin, Va., had stopped at the store and was inside for what Webb described as “only two-to-three minutes.”

“After leaving the store Mr. Nichols realized the van was missing,” Sheriff Webb said, adding that the keys were left in the ignition. “Mr. Nichols was on his cell phone talking with my dispatcher when he saw the van pass through the stoplight heading west on U.S. 158.”

It was at this point where the GCSO vehicles became involved in first locating the van and then launching an effort to stop it.

“The area that Chief Deputy Spruill chose to bring this incident to an end is one where there were no houses, just woods,” Webb said. “We’re glad that it came to end there because the very busy intersection at U.S. 13 was just a short distance ahead and this young man, after ramming a law enforcement vehicle, was demonstrating that he was a threat to the motoring public.”

The Sheriff also offered advice to those who may leave the keys in their vehicle.

“As evident here, it only takes just a few minutes for a vehicle to be stolen,” Webb said. “It was made easier here because the keys were left in the vehicle. Please, take your keys and lock your doors, even if you are dashing into a store for only a few brief moments.”