BMW that crashed and burst into flames in Huber Heights after chase was stolen in Clark County, police say
The driver of a stolen BMW that fled deputies in Harrison Twp. on Tuesday afternoon crashed into three vehicles on Brandt Pike before bursting into flames, causing a pickup driver to suffer critical, third-degree burns to most of his body, Huber Heights police said.
The driver, identified as 27-year-old Cory Allen Harbarger of Dayton, was charged Thursday by the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office with four counts of aggravated vehicular assault, four counts of vehicular assault, failure to comply, receiving stolen property (motor vehicle) and tampering with evidence.
Credit: Montgomery County Jail
Credit: Montgomery County Jail
Harbarger was booked early Wednesday into the Montgomery County Jail, where he was held on $100,000 bond in an unrelated case where he faces drug and stolen property charges.
Of the eight people injured in two collisions in the case — one a Huber Heights officer — only one remains hospitalized. Authorities are unsure what caused the BMW to catch fire.
“I don’t believe a determination will be able to be made because of the degree of flames, which left all three of the vehicles burned to the frames,” Lt. Brian Carr of the Huber Heights Police Division said Wednesday.
Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputies alerted Huber Heights police around 4:40 p.m. Tuesday that they were on northbound Interstate 75, chasing a white BMW that had been reported stolen out of Clark County, said Huber Heights police Sgt. Josh Fosnight.
The driver, later identified as Harbarger, struck a bystander as it fled from deputies, according to an affidavit filed in Montgomery County Municipal Court - Eastern Division in Huber Heights.
“The vehicle is located on Interstate 70 eastbound still driving erratically and at a high rate of speed, almost striking a Huber Heights Police officer’s vehicle,” the affidavit stated.
Two Huber Heights police officers on I-70 tried to catch up to the BMW, but it abruptly merged to the off-ramp for state Route 201, also known as Brandt Pike, and headed south. One officer could not make it to the ramp in time; the second officer, identified as Reagan Morrett in the affidavit made it onto Brandt Pike but was injured in a crash with an unrelated vehicle, police said.
A crash report filed Thursday indicated Morrett, 23, suffered serious injuries and was taken to Miami Valley Hospital. Her cruiser’s lights and sirens were active when she exited the off-ramp to Brandt Pike, “thus running the red light while braking and struck the driver’s side of [a 2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser].”
The driver of the SUV, a 55-year-old Tipp City woman, was taken to Miami Valley Hospital North in Englewood for treatment of possible injuries, the report stated.
When additional officers responded to assist the officer involved in the crash on Brandt Pike near I-70, the BMW was spotted traveling south at high speed on Brandt Pike near Leyden Lane.
“At that time, no cruisers were behind it and had not been since the suspect exited I-70,” Fosnight said.
Officers saw the BMW crash near Chambersburg Road.
Harbarger “continued driving erratically at which time he went left of center and struck a Jeep Cherokee, continuing southbound, striking a [Ford] F-150, which then struck a Honda Civic,” the affidavit stated.
Harbarger immediately got out of the car and ran away, but several officers apprehended him in the parking lot of a nearby business, Fosnight said.
“As all of the occupants from the involved vehicles were attempting to exit their crashed vehicles, the suspect vehicle burst into flames,” the sergeant said.
First responders reported seeing a large plume of heavy smoke while on the way to the crash, and video from a bystander shows flames and thick black smoke high in the air.
Passersby then helped occupants escape, Fosnight said. However, the driver of a Ford F-150 pickup truck suffered third-degree burns to the majority of his body and was listed in critical condition at Miami Valley Hospital.
The driver of a Honda sedan who suffered second-degree burns to his leg also was taken to Miami Valley Hospital, and the driver of a vehicle in the crash that did not catch fire was taken to Kettering Health Huber - Emergency Center, along with a child passenger, for treatment of minor injuries.
Harbarger was taken to Miami Valley Hospital with minor injuries. His passenger also went to Miami Valley Hospital, but with second-degree burns in addition to minor crash injuries.
The pickup truck driver’s condition has not changed, Fosnight said Thursday.
Harbarger reportedly admitted to using heroin and showed signs of impairment following the crash, according to the affidavit.
The crash involving the officer is under investigation separately from the fiery crash, which is being handled by Huber Heights detectives and the crash investigation team.