Law enforcement officials said they were unaware of any injuries related to Mischief’s videos, but the type of driving on display has been responsible for injuries and numerous deaths on the region’s roads over the past five years.
Just how close to the lines of public safety the drivers would skate became dramatically clear on Highway 250, police said.
In footage recovered from the Mischief cameras, a driver is seen cutting across a double yellow line to pass a slower motorist — and ends up right in the path of an oncoming pickup, police said.
With less than 50 yards between the vehicles, the truck’s driver is seen pulling off the road to avoid a crash, police said. The car’s driver weaves back into his lane and tears down the highway.
At another point on the video, a car is seen executing a similar maneuver in the path of a trash truck, which is about 100 yards away, police said.
Neither near-collision caused any injuries, but authorities said that at least four drivers were run off the road that Sunday.
Ross chased the crew for roughly 20 miles with lights blazing. Half the drivers zoomed across the Highland County line, where they were stopped by waiting sheriff’s deputies.
Ross caught up with — and surged ahead of — the other half of the pack on a winding, mountainous stretch of Highway 250. But he broke off the chase when it became too dangerous to continue.
He managed to pull over two of the cars behind him. Then he realized that five others had turned around and gone back down the mountain to elude him. On the video, police said the drivers can be heard performing the maneuver: “Turn around, or they are going to get us all!”
But Mischief didn’t have a way out. The drivers who turned around ran into a police roadblock at the bottom of the mountain.
In all, 15 drivers were pulled over in Augusta and Highland counties in what police said was likely one of the biggest street-racing busts in recent Virginia history. Officers confiscated handheld cameras from five of the cars and impounded the vehicles. Ross said that the drivers were “laughing and joking like they just pulled over to talk.”
Police were surprised to find that the crew had taped the run. The type of videos that had given them underground cachet could provide crucial evidence at a trial in February. Police said the tapes also showed that the crew had been drag racing on Highway 81 in Rockingham County the same day.
So far, the drivers are facing reckless-driving charges, but armed with more than an hour of tape, authorities said they are exploring additional counts of racing and eluding police. The drivers could face jail time.
“I was surprised we didn’t have a crash,” Ross said. “I kept expecting it and expecting it.”