An email from Major Jeff Driskill of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) is working to get full transparency regarding the death of a man during a traffic stop.

A Warren County Sheriff’s Deputy followed an erratically driving vehicle on Winchester Road doing 63 in a 55 mph zone.

After initial attempts to stop the vehicle failed, the deputy followed the offender.

The deputy observed the movements of the vehicle indicating that someone was driving while impaired.

After approximately 4 miles assistance was requested from the Front Royal Police Department to use stop sticks if required.

The vehicle then illegally entered the parking lot of a convenience store near the intersection of routes 522 and 66.

The driver pulled over and exited the vehicle, identified as Ralph C. Ennis, 77, of Gainsville, Virginia.

Ennis failed to stop heading towards the deputies despite orders to stop.

A deputy attempted to control Ennis by approaching from behind.

Two deputies and the suspect fell on the trailer hitch protruding from the back of Ennis’ vehicle.

Ennis suffered non-life threatening injuries, a cut on the ring finger of his right hand as well as a cut above his right forehead at forehead level which was treated immediately.

Ennis was placed on his feet conscious and answering questions when he was taken to Warren Memorial Hospital.

A deputy was also treated and released from hospital after being treated for minor injuries.

At Warren Memorial Hospital, doctors speaking with Ennis determined he had signs of bleeding and was transferred to Winchester Medical Center for further evaluation.

While in Winchester, it became apparent that Ennis was showing signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s and help was sought from Northwestern Community Services.

During further investigation, it was discovered that Ennis had been reported missing on March 11 and later located at Front Royal.

While speaking with Ennis’ family, it was discovered that he had a history of mental illness and dementia.

On April 15, it was learned that Ennis had died in the care of Blue Ridge Hospice in Winchester.

The Warren County Sheriff’s Office requested a full medical examination with the knowledge and support of the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.

The actual cause of death is pending official notification from the Medical Examiner’s Office.

Meanwhile, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an internal investigation into the incident.

Warren County Sheriff Mark Butler wants the public to know that he is being as proactive and transparent as possible in this investigation.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.


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