Augusta County has closed the book on a high-speed crash that seriously injured a deputy. No charges will be filed in the case, and the sheriff's office says tire failure might be to blame.
The Augusta County sheriff says Deputy Joseph Sholes was driving roughly 80 miles an hour at the time of the accident. He calls that a reasonable speed, as Sholes responded to an emergency call for a fight with weapons involved.
A review board and state police both found that Sholes was not at fault. The 25-year-old totaled his cruiser on the night of January 4 when he ran off the road and crashed into several trees. It happened on a straight stretch of Route 340 near Crimora.
Sheriff Randy Fisher says an inspection of the car, reports from two eyewitnesses, and Sholes' own account of the crash all seemingly point to a problem with the right rear tire.
"Speculation on our part that the tire could have been losing air pressure, slowly going down... or maybe it got heated up, traveling at the speeds we have to travel. The tire could have blown, and caused it to fishtail," said Fisher.
An Augusta deputy for the past five years, Sholes broke both of his legs and shattered an ankle in the accident. Fisher says he returned home last week, after spending 12 days in the hospital.
Moments before the crash, Sholes and other deputies had been called to the Waterford Village Apartments in Fishersville and his rapid response would have put him on scene in eight to 10 minutes.