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Car chase lasts a minute but costs man his life

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A man killed in a car crash along Interstate 64 in Putnam County while fleeing from Hurricane police officers had an extensive criminal history, officials said. 

Jan D. Perry, 44, of Clarksburg had allegedly attempted to steal a television and other items from the Hurricane Walmart when officers were called to the scene, Hurricane Mayor Scott Edwards said.

Perry was wanted for a parole violation, he said.

He had multiple convictions for offenses such as armed robbery, drug dealing and multiple driving under the influence charges, Edwards said.

Perry fled the scene in a Chevrolet Malibu, leaving behind the television and other items when officers pulled into the Walmart parking lot, Edwards said.

Two Hurricane police officers in one car pursued Perry, who ran several red lights before getting on the eastbound lanes of I-64, Edwards said.

"He was driving very recklessly," he said. 

Perry reached speeds of about 100 miles per hour before attempting to exit the interstate at the Hurricane rest stop just east of the town, Edwards said.

Perry lost control when exiting the interstate and slammed into the back of a tractor-trailer parked at the rest area, he said.

He was pronounced dead on the scene.

"He (Perry) hit the truck on the driver's side of the car," Edwards said.

No other injuries occurred. Hurricane firefighters used the Jaws of Life to extricate Perry's body from the car, he said.

There were no other passengers in the Malibu, Edwards said. No officers were injured in the pursuit. 

Perry struck the truck's trailer hard enough to shatter the rear window in the cab, he said. The Malibu also struck the tractor-trailer with enough force to break the rear axels of the vehicle, Hurricane Police Chief Mike Mullins said. 

Edwards estimated that the chase lasted about one minute. The rest area where the accident occurred is about one mile from Hurricane.

Perry had lived in Culloden in Putnam County before moving to Clarksburg a few years ago, Mullins said. Officers did not know he was wanted for a parole violation when they initiated the pursuit, he said. 

Mullins believes the officers acted appropriately and should not have backed off the chase even though Perry reached speeds of 100 miles an hour.

Hurricane officers pursuing Perry did not attempt to make the turn into the rest area because they were moving too fast, Mullins said.

"They knew they couldn't make that turn safely," Mullins said.

Putnam sheriff's deputies are investigating the crash.

Putnam Sheriff Mark Smith declined to comment about whether Hurricane officers should have backed off the chase.

But he pointed out that the chase lasted a short period of time and that officers had little to no time to make the call to back off.

"And when someone runs from police you have to wonder why," Smith said. "You never know what they could be wanted for."

"That's a really bad situation for law enforcement officers," he added. "Do you let the guy go, or do you pursue?" Contact writer Paul Fallon at or 304-348-4817. Follow him at ;;   


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