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Akron driver seriously injured after pursuit by state troopers, family questions chase policy

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Posted at 7:40 AM, Jan 11, 2021

ELYRIA, Ohio — An Akron resident involved in a pursuit with state troopers has been hospitalized with serious injuries after crashing into a tree in Elyria, according to a news release from the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

At approximately 11:41 p.m. Sunday, state troopers initiated a traffic stop with a 2012 Hyundai Sonata on State Route 57 for an equipment violation, troopers confirmed the driver didn't have his headlights activated.

During the pursuit, which reached speeds of 100 MPH, the vehicle traveled off of West River Road near Penrose and struck a utility pole, a fence, and a tree.

The driver, identified as 26-year-old Davonte Prince of Akron, was ejected from the vehicle after hitting the tree. The engine of the Sonata was also ejected from the compartment.

Georgette Prince questioned the highway patrol chase policy and wondered if there was a safer way her son could have been stopped.

“A 100 MPH chase about a headlight, that’s very excessive,“ Prince said.

"It could have been avoided. Like I said I don’t condone it or saying what my son did was right, he should have stayed there, but after he left they should not have chased him at 100 MPH."

“They should have called it off, they had the license plate, it was very excessive for them to keep pursuing him.”

“They could have picked him up, come to the house, it didn’t take all of that, there were other measures that could have been taken.”

But Sgt. Ray Santiago, spokesman for the Ohio Highway Patrol, told News 5 Prince was caught the night before, on Saturday Jan. 9, driving without headlights in Lorain, and again fled from troopers. Troopers broke-off the chase after 20 seconds due to heavy traffic and high speeds.

“For someone that was operating a vehicle without their lights on, it turned into putting a lot of folks in danger," Sgt. Santiago said

“A vehicle traveling with no lights on sometimes indicates someone is impaired, it’s something we can’t necessarily ignore.”

“On Saturday, as soon as the trooper saw it approaching a red light, and it was not going to slow down, he terminated, just as we should.”

“But on Sunday, these conditions were very different to the first night. There was significantly less traffic on the roadways if any. There weren’t any red lights that were being disregarded.”

“These traffic stops probably would have ended with a warning and some instructions on how to turn on your lights.”

“If folks do observe some dangerous driving behaviors, dial #677 to report those so we can get a trooper to the area to investigate.

"So folks don’t have to deal with a tragedy that now his family is dealing with.”

“We did recover a stolen firearm and suspected marijuana, and even those circumstances aren’t worth this young man being in critical condition.”

Prince was first taken to University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center in Elyria where he was transferred by helicopter to MetroHealth Medical Center.

Ohio Edison responded to the crash scene to make emergency repairs to the utility pole and transformer, which was leaking fluid after the pole was struck.

State troopers said excessive speed was a factor in the crash as well as failure to use a safety belt. Additional charges are pending further investigation, the release stated.