Drunk Driving Crash Results In Death of Passenger

FREDERICK COUNTY, VA (July 1, 2020 12:20 pm)—At approximately 2:23 am Monday June 29th, Deputy N. Dempsey was patrolling the area of Martinsburg Pike (Rt.11 North) and Yard Master Court when he observed a vehicle with an equipment violation and turned to investigate. As the deputy came up behind the vehicle in a normal fashion, with no emergency equipment active, the driver suddenly made an illegal u-turn and accelerated sharply in the opposite direction. Unaware of any reason the driver would do this, other than trying to avoid contact with law enforcement, the deputy turned and attempted to catch up to the speeding suspect. At a speed of 90 mph, the deputy was not able to overtake the suspect who now turned onto Hopewell Road.

At this time he activated his emergency equipment to attempt to stop the suspect for reckless driving by speed for traveling over 80 mph in a 45 mph zone. Deputy Dempsey attempted to catch up to the suspect who continued to accelerate and pull away as the deputy tried to keep the fleeing vehicle in sight. The suspect traveled 1.5 miles before losing control of his vehicle and going off the left side of the roadway where he hit several utility poles in the course of rolling and flipping his vehicle, and where his passenger was ejected, before the vehicle came to a final rest 130 yards from where it took out the first utility pole leaving a scattered debris field of car parts, glass and personal effects.

Deputy Dempsey topped the small hill to see the suspect vehicle already rolling over and immediately called for rescue units to respond. He contacted the driver, later identified as 22-year old Jeremy Andrew Nichols of Winchester, who appeared to only have minor injuries. At first Nichols stated he was alone in the vehicle and that he was “drunk”. Upon further questioning, Nichols admitted to having a passenger at which point the entire area was searched and the body of Zachary Carter was found 35 yards from where the vehicle came to rest.

Nichols was transported to the Winchester Medical Center and admitted for medical observation with non-life threatening injuries. A search warrant for the taking of blood for chemical analysis was obtained and executed as well as warrants for DUI (2nd Offense), Reckless Driving and Felony Eluding Police. Frederick County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ross Spicer is being consulted in regards to future charges against Nichols relating to the death of Zachary Carter in this incident.

The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office’s Traffic Division responded to the scene to investigate the crash with the assistance of the Virginia State Police Crash Reconstruction Unit. Lt. Warren Gosnell stated “This wasn’t a typical police pursuit with a police car traveling directly behind a suspect with lights and siren for miles. This was a deputy unsuccessfully trying to catch up to a fleeing suspect and it took about 1 minute to travel the 1.5 miles before this suspect’s tragic error in judgment cost his passenger his life. We are all saddened that we couldn’t prevent that from happening in this instance”.

From a release.

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