Jan. 25—HUBER HEIGHTS — The driver of a stolen BMW that fled deputies in Harrison Twp. crashed into three vehicles on Brandt Pike Thursday afternoon before bursting into flames, causing a pickup driver to suffer critical, third-degree burns to most of his body, Huber Heights police said.
Only one of seven people injured in two collisions — one a Huber Heights officer — remained hospitalized, but 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.
The suspected driver, whose name was not released, was booked early Wednesday into Montgomery County Jail.
Carr said charges are expected to be filed Thursday against him, pending review from the prosecutor's office. Potential charges include aggravated vehicular assault, a felony, the lieutenant said.
Montgomery County Sheriff's deputies alerted Huber Heights police around 4:40 p.m. Tuesday that they were chasing a white BMW on northbound Interstate 75 that was reported stolen out of Clark County, said Huber Heights police Sgt. Josh Fosnight.
The driver rammed a vehicle as it fled from deputies before eventually traveling onto I-70 East at high speed, nearly striking one of two Huber Heights cruisers that got onto the highway to intercept it, the sergeant said.
The officers tried to catch up to the BMW, but it had already merged to the offramp for state Route 201, also known as Brandt Pike, where it was headed south. One officer could not make it to the ramp in time; the second officer made it onto Brandt Pike but was involved in a crash with an unrelated vehicle, police said.
The officer was taken to a local hospital for minor injuries. The occupants of the other vehicle were evaluated at the scene and released.
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 turned around as the suspect vehicle was headed south and saw it crash into four vehicles near Chambersburg Road. The BMW driver immediately got out of the car and ran away before several officers apprehended him in the parking lot of a nearby business, the sergeant said.
All occupants from the vehicles involved in the crash were attempting to exit their vehicles when the suspect vehicle burst into flames, Fosnight 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 the occupants escape the fire, 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.
The driver of the BMW 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.
All but the crash victim suffering the most serious injuries has been released from the hospital, Carr said Wednesday.
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.