SUV speeds away from deputies after 60-mile chase through West Ashley, over Interstate 26

ANDREW KNAPP/STAFF -- May 13, 2013 -- The Lincoln Navigator that Charleston County Sheriff's Office deputies chased Monday night from Charleston nearly to Orangeburg County speeds southward on U.S. Highway 17 near the Ashley River bridge.

A sport-utility vehicle sped away from drug agents in West Ashley, then got away from deputies in a chase that stretched about 60 miles Monday night.

Narcotics investigators from the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office were conducting a probe involving a white Lincoln on Magwood Drive about 7:50 p.m. when the SUV took off, sheriff’s Maj. Mike Stanley said in a statement. The deputies signaled for a traffic stop by turning on their blue lights, but Stanley did not say why they were trying to stop the vehicle.

An attempt to contact the major by telephone was not successful.

Before sunset, the Lincoln Navigator was seen speeding past traffic on streets in downtown Charleston, including the Septima Clark Parkway. A marked sheriff’s cruiser was seconds behind. Two more cruisers followed, their sirens blaring, as the SUV led the authorities back into West Ashley over Savannah Highway.

The SUV’s precise route through West Ashley wasn’t immediately released by the Sheriff’s Office; Stanley provided few specifics.

The Lincoln quickly navigated moderate traffic in West Ashley. Two unmarked cars with blue lights sped over S.C. Highway 61 to help, but the SUV reached westbound Interstate 26.

At several points along the highway, deputies stopped on the roadside and readied spike strips designed to puncture a vehicle’s tires, according to a recording of their radio transmissions. But it was not known whether the spikes were ever deployed.

Some of the authorities remained stationed along I-26 in case the SUV circled back toward them.

Deputies in Berkeley and Dorchester counties were notified as the pursuit stretched into their jurisdictions and hit about 100 mph. At one point, deputies reported seeing the driver throw something from the vehicle.

Stanley said in his statement that deputies canceled their chase on I-26, but the sheriff’s spokesman didn’t say when or where it ended. The SUV continued westward under darkened skies.

Authorities said in their radio communications that they lost sight of the Lincoln around Mile Marker 169, which is the Interstate 95 interchange in Orangeburg County. But they didn’t know whether the SUV had taken the exit.

When it was done, the pursuit that wound through West Ashley and westward on I-26 to the northern edge of Dorchester County lasted about 60 miles and about 35 minutes.

Stanley said his agency was investigating the case and would release further information “as it becomes available.”

Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or