A road check turned into a road race on Monday when a man without a driver’s license and drugs in the car sped away from state troopers, ramming one of their cars in the chase, police said.

The driver, 26-year-old Jared Scott Marsh of Independence, and a passenger, 20-year-old Jacob Gray Cooley of Galax, are both facing felony charges in the May 20 pursuit that started at 6:10 p.m. as Virginia State Police troopers were checking licenses and registrations at the intersection of Virginia 94 and Pope Road, according to a state police spokesperson.

In a criminal complaint, Trooper Christopher Viars said Marsh stopped his Honda Civic at the checkpoint and told him that he didn’t have a driver’s license.

Viars said he told Marsh to pull the car into a parking area, but Marsh sped away.

“As I pursued the driver he almost struck a young bicyclist on (sic) side of the road,” he wrote. “The pursuit ended due to a pit (pursuit intervention technique) maneuver.”

Police said Marsh rammed one of the trooper’s vehicles, but no officers were hurt in the chase that ended on Pope Road.

Both suspects, though, were taken to Wythe County Community Hospital where they were treated for minor injuries and released, police said.

Viars said police found a bag in the Honda that contained individual bags of a crystal substance that Marsh said was methamphetamine. Marsh said two of the baggies were his and the other was Cooley’s, Viars wrote.

Marsh, who is already facing drug charges in two other counties, was arrested on May 21 and charged in Wythe County with felony drug possession, felony eluding police, possessing drugs with the intent to distribute and driving while intoxicated.

Unemployed and staying in a motel paid for by charity, he was given a court-appointed attorney to represent him during his Wythe County General District Court arraignment.

Marsh is being held without bond on the new charges and has a preliminary hearing set for Oct. 30.

According to court records, a Grayson County grand jury will consider drug and paraphernalia possession charges against Marsh on July 26. In addition, Marsh is awaiting trial in Grayson County on a drug distribution charge.

Last October, Marsh was convicted in Carroll County of not having a driver’s license, according to court records.

Also unemployed, Cooley, who was charged with felony drug possession, was given a court appointed attorney on May 21 and is being held in the New River Valley Regional Jail on a $2,500 bond.

On May 15, Cooley was convicted in his absence in Galax General District Court of driving with a revoked license-second offense and defective equipment.

He was fined $175 plus $141 in court costs.

His Wythe County preliminary hearing has also been set for Oct. 30.

Jeffrey Simmons can be reached at 228-6611, extension 19, or jsimmons@wythenews.com.

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