Motorcyclist pleads guilty in October high-speed chase

A Woodbridge man pleaded guilty in Rappahhanock County Circuit Court last week to leading police on a dangerous chase through leaf-season traffic last October on U.S. 211, a chase in which a state trooper pursued two motorcycles at speeds of 125 to 140 mph, one of them for more than 20 miles.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff said it was “extremely lucky” no one died or was injured in the chase, in which one rider got away and Brandon Dale Morris, 24, did not. Morris pleaded guilty last Tuesday (June 26) to the felony charge and will be sentenced Sept. 10. Goff told Circuit Court Judge James H. Chamblin that there was no agreement to sentencing on the charge, which carries a maximum of five years in a state prison, or 12 months in jail, a $500 fine and up to a one-year loss of license.

With Virginia State Police Trooper Don Corbin standing by, Goff presented the evidence against Morris: On routine patrol last Oct. 16, Corbin clocked two sport bikes doing 79 mph in a 55-mph zone on eastbound 211; when he tried to stop them, both bikes took off. Goff said both bikes took off, weaving through Saturday morning traffic and reaching speeds of more than 140 mph.

Morris crossed into Culpeper County and, as the other bike continued east, made a sweeping U-turn at Clevenger’s Corner, Goff said; on the police cruiser’s video recorder, he said, you can see the rider turning to look at the pursuing vehicle before speeding away, now headed back toward Rappahannock County. The sport bike was finally pulled over near the Amissville fire hall.

At many times during the chase, Goff said, Corbin’s speedometer was maxed out at 140 mph, indicating he was probably exceeding that speed.

“This is extremely deadly behavior,” Goff said, “and the outcome of that chase could have been very tragic. As the two bikes are seen in the video to fly past the entrance to Route 729, I cringed. I could just see my wife pulling out onto 211 and not seeing them – or my neighbor, or my friend.”

Goff noted that both bikes passed about 50 vehicles in peak October leaf season traffic in attempt to elude the trooper. “They put the trooper’s life in danger,” Goff said, “and Don [Corbin] has small children to go home to. Everyone who was on that route was endangered.”

Goff said every fall he hears motorcycles “winding out” on the highway, from his porch on Route 729 near 211. He said that there was a group of street-bike riders making videos of extreme driving in Page and Rappahannock counties and posting them on the Internet, inviting other riders to do the same. Goff noted that every year there are quite a few fatalities in both counties on the road leading up both sides of the mountain to Thornton Gap.

“When it comes to dangerous motorcycle behavior, there will be rigorous enforcement,” Goff said. “I’ll be asking the court to put those offenders in jail or in prison if they get caught, and to take their driver’s licenses for up to a year.”