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Bluff City man nabbed in Virginia following I-81 chase that ends with crash

STAFF REPORT • Updated May 13, 2019 at 8:00 PM

ABINGDON, Va. — A Bluff City man is facing charges after allegedly leading the Virginia State Police on a high-speed pursuit Monday morning, partly in the wrong lanes of Interstates 81, and ending when he crashed into an occupied house.

Around 10:30 a.m. Monday, a VSP trooper initiated a traffic stop on a northbound Chevrolet Aveo driven by James E. Malone, 41, at mile marker 7 on I-81 in Washington County, Va.

Malone allegedly sped away from the trooper north on I-81, using the shoulder to pass northbound traffic. The trooper terminated the pursuit at the 11 mile marker when he lost sight of the Chevrolet.

A BOLO (be on the lookout) was issued for the suspect vehicle, which was spotted traveling on Highway 11 a short time later by a VSP sergeant.

The sergeant initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle, which again refused to stop.

Malone got back onto I-81 at Exit 14, and as he headed north on I-81 allegedly rammed a VSP patrol car, which caused Malone to lose control. The Chevrolet spun into the median.

Malone regained control and began driving north in the southbound lanes of I-81.

With the assistance of the Washington County Sheriff's Office, all southbound traffic was stopped at the 21 mile marker as the Chevrolet continued north on the southbound shoulder of I-81 at a high rate of speed.

Malone exited I-81 at Exit 19. As it continued onto Watauga Road at a high rate of speed, he lost control of the vehicle, ran off the road and struck a house. Malone then fled the scene on foot. At 10:47 a.m., state police apprehended him a short distance from the crashed vehicle. He was transported to Johnston Memorial Hospital for minor injuries sustained in the crash.

The house that was struck by Malone's vehicle was occupied at the time of the crash, but no one inside was injured. No other motorists or law enforcement were injured during the course of the pursuits or crashes.

Malone was already wanted on several outstanding arrest warrants. Monday's high-speed pursuit remains under investigation and charges are pending.