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Man gets jail for wild chase

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A young Stafford County man was ordered Friday to serve seven months in prison for a wild, alcohol-fueled incident that he said he doesn’t even remember.

John Claude Pitts, 22, was convicted of three charges following the incident last Nov. 9 during which he wrecked a truck, left his ejected passenger on the road and nearly struck several vehicles. In the ensuing chase, police said Pitts was driving on wheels with two tires missing.

Pitts previously pleaded guilty to felony eluding, hit-and-run and driving while intoxicated. Judge Sarah Deneke Friday sentenced him to a total of nine years in prison with all but seven months suspended.

Deneke’s sentence was above the recommended state sentencing guidelines, which called for a maximum penalty of six months to serve.

The judge said Pitts was fortunate to not be facing more serious charges, saying that he was “inches away” from killing someone.

According to prosecutor Ed Lustig, Pitts had a blood-alcohol content of .17 when he wrecked his pickup truck early Nov. 9 in the area of Caisson and Hollywood Farms roads in southeastern Stafford.

The truck overturned several times, ejecting the passenger and tossing a camper that had been attached into a yard.

Pitts was able to keep driving, and Deputy Thomas Grasso spotted his vehicle a short time later still on Caisson Road with its headlights off and both the front and rear tires on the driver’s side missing.

The truck nearly struck Grasso’s cruiser before turning onto White Oak Road toward Fredericksburg.

During the pursuit, the truck nearly struck two rescue vehicles that were heading toward the original accident.

Pitts was taken into custody near his home on Madison Avenue, where he drove across a yard.

He told deputies that he had had 10 beers at a southern Stafford restaurant that night before getting behind the wheel.

The passenger was taken to the hospital in a private vehicle. He told police he remembered drinking with Pitts and getting into the truck, but didn’t remember anything else.

Pitts, who was represented by attorney Joseph Hicks, said Friday that he started drinking that night and got “carried away.”

Lustig said Pitts deserved a sentence above the guidelines for his “crazy” driving that night.

Keith Epps: 540/374-5404