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Chase ends with crash in St. C.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The hunt for a fugitive that began Sunday in Jefferson County ended with a chase through St. Clairsville and a crash on Main Street on Monday.

The suspect, Brandon Billingsley, 39, of Rayland was transported from the scene with reported injuries and was hospitalized.

St. Clairsville Police Chief Matt Arbenz gave some details Monday evening. He said the incident started at about 10:10 a.m.

“We were told earlier (Monday) morning by central dispatch and the officers who worked at midnight knew that Jefferson County was looking for a suspect that had led them on a pursuit, crashed a car and got away (on Sunday),” Arbenz said. “They were considering him armed and dangerous at the time, so it was essential that he be located. We learned that he might be in the area around Whiteside (Chevrolet, Buick, GMC on National Road).”

Arbenz said he and a deputy with the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office were on foot, looking through vehicles in the area, when Billingsley fled on a “side by side” off-road vehicle.

“He was in the parking lot below us while we were searching. I suppose he knew we were close to him,” Arbenz said. “We initiated a pursuit on him that went onto Barton Road, turned around, came out of Barton Road and came right into town on Main Street where he crashed. He was driving on the sidewalk and crashed into a concrete pole.”

Arbenz said no one was on the sidewalk and in immediate danger during the chase and crash.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating the accident portion of the incident. Sgt. Tim Cunningham said Billingsley was driving a Polaris Ranger, confirmed as a stolen vehicle out of Jefferson County. He said according to the report, a law enforcement vehicle struck Billingsley’s vehicle on East Main Street in an attempt to stop it.

“We’re an assisting agency as far as the crashes go. We were involved in the pursuit, at least catching up to the pursuit when it happened,” Cunningham said.

“I got there a little bit after (the pursuit) and helped restrain him until they could get him cut out of that because he was stuck in it,” Richland Township Police Chief Mike Troullos said of the vehicle. “It was pretty bad.”

Chief Deputy James Zusack with the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office said he was still compiling a report Monday evening.

The pole was knocked over. Belmont County Recorder Jason Garczyk said he observed the fallen pole in the street that morning. On Monday afternoon, a cone had been placed over the spot where the pole had stood.

Arbenz and the Belmont County 911 dispatch said Billingsley was taken to WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital then later flown by medical helicopter from there to another hospital in Morgantown due to the extent of his injuries.

“We really appreciate the assistance of the sheriff’s office, Richland Township police, the Ohio State Patrol, and Cumberland Trail (Fire District) for helping get the incident cleared up and Main Street back to normal,” Arbenz said.

Detectives at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office were not available for comment.

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