Johnson's journey: Parkway chase ends in naked capture
An early Wednesday police chase on the Blue Ridge Parkway ended with a crashed-and-burned sport utility vehicle and a driver who, by the time a canine team caught up with him, had ditched his clothes.
Police say the trouble started around 6:46am on May 2 in Augusta County. A Virginia State trooper allegedly began trying to stop Trevis H. Johnson, 28, of Charlottesville, for speeding and then eluding arrest on Mt. Torrey Road.
Johnson, driving a 2004 Ford Explorer, allegedly continued south to the Blue Ridge Parkway, a winding mountain-top road favored by cyclists and sightseers. Police say Johnson barely made it a quarter mile before the Explorer ran off the road, hit an embankment, and rolled onto its driver's side.
Climbing out of the passenger window around 6:52am, Johnson fled on foot into the woods, according to Virginia State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller, who says the Explorer burst into flames, so pursuing Senior Trooper D.C. Brydge put out the fire with an extinguisher– twice.
"He didn't pursue on foot," explains Geller, "because he had to make sure no one was in the car."
Next up was the Augusta Sheriff's canine team, called in to track Johnson in an area of "pretty rugged terrain," says Geller.
By 10:45am, about two miles away and close to the popular Crabtree Falls hiking area in Nelson County, pursuers captured Johnson, who was completely naked. Asked why Johnson might have shed his clothing, spokesperson Geller was at a loss.
"I don't know," says Geller, declining to offer any theory.
Could clothes-removal throw off police dogs? Sergeant C.J. Aikens with the Virginia State Police says that disrobing does not prevent canines from following the scent of a fleeing person.
The Wintergreen Rescue Squad treated Johnson for minor cuts before he was transported to the Middle River Regional Jail in Staunton, according to a State Police release that lists the charges as one count each of speeding, reckless driving, drug possession, and one felony count for eluding police. A small amount of drugs Johnson allegedly possessed in his vehicle has been sent to a lab for analysis, says Geller.
Johnson was charged with drug possession in 2007 and 2010 in Albemarle. Those charges were dismissed.