GREENSVILLE COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Two people have died and two others are currently in the hospital being treated for serious injuries after a police chase led to a crash on Interstate 95 in Emporia on Tuesday.
Virginia State Police said a 2018 BMW fled from an Emporia Police officer that attempted to pull the vehicle over. Emporia Police say the driver was clocked going 90 miles per hour in a 70 mph zone.
The driver, identified as 30-year-old Jermaine Ricardo Bernard of Richmond, attempted to escape the officer by turning his headlights off and taking exit 17 towards Route 301.
Emporia Police Chief Ricky Pinksaw has been in law enforcement for 32 years and said, “I haven’t seen anybody drive in such a gross negligent manner as Bernard did.”
After failing to make a right turn onto 301, Bernard then made a U-turn, heading the wrong way down the exit ramp and eventually traveling south in the northbound lanes of I-95.
During the chase, the officer, Emporia Police detective R.C. Williams, lost sight of the BMW, which eventually collided with a vehicle heading north.
“Detective Williams had to turn around, and that’s where that loss came in at. He was able to see taillights, but then he would lose them again,” Pinksaw said in an interview with 8News Wednesday.
Both the driver and passenger in the BMW were thrown from the car, and Chief Pinksaw said the BMW caught fire. State Police say the two individuals, Bernard and his female passenger, were not wearing seatbelts.
Bernard was flown to VCU Medical Center for treatment of life-threatening injuries. The female passenger of the BMW died at the scene of the crash.
The driver and passenger of the Lincoln are from New London, Conn., according to State Police.
The passenger, identified as Melissa R. Dorsett, 36, also died at the scene of the crash. The driver, a 36-year-old man, was taken to Southern Regional Medical Center and later flown to VCU Medical Center for treatment of serious injuries. Police say both were wearing seatbelts.
“Mr. Bernard made choices last night that took the lives of two individuals,” Chief Pinksaw said.
Chief Pinksaw said he isn’t sure why Bernard chose to evade police. He said Detective Williams is trying to cope after what happened.
“He was very shaken up last night at the scene of the accident, as well as when he was brought back to the police station,” Chief Pinksaw told 8News.
Virginia State Police are investigating the incident further at the request of the Emporia Police Department.
Chief Pinksaw confirms Detective Williams is on administrative leave, which is protocol. He said charges for Bernard are pending.
Stay with 8News for updates.