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Questions linger in two-county chase that led to deadly crash

SPRING HILL — For just a moment, Mike Maines spotted the blur of a red pickup and flashing lights screaming north on U.S. 19.

As he unlocked the doors to Action Honda in Hudson on Tuesday morning, the shop's manager didn't think much of it. Maines didn't know that just 4 miles north of him, the truck would slam into his friend and longtime customer Henry McCain as the 66-year-old drove his motorcycle off County Line Road and onto the highway.

Only a few shards of glass and a dried splotch of blood remain at the spot of the road where McCain died, but the questions of how 21-year-old Brittany Miles escaped the back of a Pasco deputy's vehicle while she was in handcuffs remained unanswered Wednesday.

Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco declined requests from the media for interviews, saying he would talk when the investigation is done.

His office released few details on the incident that has left Miles facing numerous charges, including felony murder. Two deputies worked the 7:19 a.m. traffic stop — Christopher Greifenberger and Ashley Grady, both 23.

Grady was dragged by Miles' 2002 Dodge Ram across three lanes of the highway as the deputy tried to prevent the escape. She suffered a broken leg, broken ankle and several lacerations, and authorities said she's recovering in a hospital.

As the investigation continues, McCain's friends and family are preparing for his memorial, set for 4 p.m. Saturday at Thomas B. Dobies Funeral Home & Crematory in Hudson.

McCain of Spring Hill worked as a funeral director at Dobies for about a decade. In the last seven weeks, McCain had helped bury five people killed in motorcycle wrecks.

Saturday, McCain's boss, Tom Dobies, asked him to sell his 2009 Suzuki motorcycle. They'd seen too many lives taken in crashes. He offered to pay for an ad.

"I told him, 'You're going to get killed,' " Dobies recalled of the conversation two days before McCain's death.

"He just smiled and said, 'Well, we're all going to die from something.' "

McCain had worked in the funeral business all of his life, Dobies said. McCain cared about the grieving families he worked with, often coming in on his days off when he was needed. Behind dark-rimmed glasses and beneath thin white hair, he was quiet and serious but wore a kind smile. He wasn't a joke teller, but he'd "get tickled" at the ones Dobies told.

A few mornings each week, he'd meet other bikers at the Action Honda for coffee and stories and, on Saturdays, doughnuts. From there, they'd pick a path and ride around the area.

"It's just sad," Maines said. "It's a sad story."

Much of which remains untold.

The Hernando County Sheriff's Office has not released the name of Miles' mother, who, according to authorities, works as a deputy for the agency. According to what a former neighbor told Bay News 9, Miles, arrested multiple times in recent years, also has a child.

Both of the Pasco deputies involved in her traffic stop, which was for suspicion of driving under the influence, are new to the department. Grady has worked there since July; Greifenberger since November 2009.

Pasco sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll would not say which deputy first responded to the call or who handcuffed Miles. He also wouldn't say if Miles was handcuffed in front of her body or behind her back. Protocol is to cuff suspects behind their backs, Doll said, but there can be exceptions, such as if someone physically cannot stretch his or her arms behind to be cuffed because of injury or excessive weight.

Doll would not say if Miles' keys were left in the ignition of the truck or if the window to the cruiser where she was being held was rolled down or if the cruiser door was open.

A report from the Hernando County Sheriff's Office states Miles was placed in the back seat of Grady's cruiser. During an interview from the hospital Tuesday afternoon, Grady told an investigator she was sitting in the front seat of her cruiser writing her arrest affidavit when Miles escaped and ran to her truck. The report gave no details on how Miles freed herself.

Miles had at least one handcuff still on as she fled and when she was caught.

Grady "jumped into the opened driver's window in an attempt to stop defendant Miles," the report states.

Grady shouted for Miles to stop and tried to grab the keys from the ignition. With Grady "half-inside" the truck's cab, the report states Miles floored it to 70 mph on U.S. 19.

At that time, the report continued, Miles "removed Dep. Grady's hands from inside the cab, forcing Dep. Grady out of the vehicle."

There will be an internal affairs investigation on the escape and pursuit.

Doll said neither deputy will be on administrative leave during that time. Grady will be on medical leave and Greifenberger is on duty as normal.

The agency, he said, has questions about how Miles escaped.

"Obviously you don't want that to happen," Doll said. "If you have suspects in custody, you want to keep them in custody."

News researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. John Woodrow Cox can be reached at (352) 848-1432 or jcox@sptimes.com.

Questions linger in two-county chase that led to deadly crash 05/11/11 [Last modified: Thursday, May 12, 2011 12:18am]
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