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High speed chase leads to eight years in prison

A Beaverdam man will spend at least eight years in prison for a crime he says he doesn’t remember.

Dempsey Albert Coles II

Dempsey Albert Coles, 41, of Beaverdam was sentenced to 20 years in prison Monday with all but eight years suspended for a March 2011 high-speed chase that started in Caroline County and ended in Spotsylvania County.

He pleaded guilty in December to two counts of assault on a law enforcement officer, attempting to elude police, three counts of obstruction of justice, reckless driving and contributing to the delinquency of a minor in Caroline Circuit Court. A charge of destruction of property was dropped.

Although he pleaded guilty to all of the charges, Coles said he doesn’t know why he tried to flee from police.

“I don’t remember what happened that day,” he said while apologizing to Judge J. Howe Brown. “I’m not a troublemaker. I don’t go around assaulting people. That’s just not something that I do.”

Defense attorney Kathy Hancock described Coles as not having a bad criminal record or being a violent person.

“He is extremely remorseful and very thankful that no one was hurt,” she said while asking for a sentence on the lower end of the guidelines. “He is mystified by his actions.”

Spencer told Brown that there was a warrant out for Coles’ arrest for failure to pay child support.

On March 7, 2011, a deputy was conducting a traffic stop for speeding on Ruther Glen Road when the driver of the car took off on foot into the woods in the Carmel Church area, Commonwealth’s Attorney Tony Spencer said in court.

The man, later identified as Coles, then left the woods and hitched a ride with an unsuspecting motorist, Spencer said.

The deputy spotted the man as a passenger in a different vehicle and conducted another traffic stop. The man fled on foot again and was chased by the deputy to the Flying J truck-stop garage and parking lot, where a brief struggle ensued, Spencer said. But he was able to get away.

End of chase in Partlow (credit: Zach Pearce)

Coles then got into a white Kia van that was parked nearby. The driver of that car was a juvenile relative whom the man had called to meet him and who didn’t know there was a police chase, Spencer said.

Spencer said the deputy yelled for the vehicle to stop and the two juveniles in the car got out of the car, while Coles hopped in the driver’s seat.

Another brief struggle ensued between the man and the deputy before the man was able to flee in that car, dragging the deputy in the parking lot as he drove off.

Caroline deputies and Virginia State Police chased the car for about 45 minutes from Carmel Church in Caroline to Partlow in Spotsylvania County before the car crashed, Spencer said.

Spencer said the car’s speed reached more than 100 mph during the chase, and the driver intentionally rammed police vehicles several times. Another Caroline deputy received a permanent injury when Coles drove his vehicle into the deputy’s driver side door.

At one point, Coles drove into an oncoming traffic lane facing a school bus that had children inside, Spencer said. The bus moved to the shoulder to avoid being hit, he said.

After his front left tire blew out, the van crashed and Coles still attempted to flee but was quickly caught by deputies.

Coles was also ordered to pay nearly $9,555 in restitution to cover damages to police vehicles.

He pleaded guilty in Spotsylvania Circuit Court to three counts of assault on a law enforcement officer, eluding police and destruction of property in March.

He will be sentenced on June 11.

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