Toxicology: Man killed in slow-speed pursuit was drunk

Wednesday, February 6, 2013
A memorial is seen Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013 at the site where James M. Pyles was killed Oct. 16 in a one-vehicle accident on Perryville Road near Kiwanis Park. (Fred Lynch)

A man involved in a slow-speed police pursuit and fatal car crash in October was under the influence of alcohol, according to toxicology reports.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Lab reported that James M. Pyles' blood alcohol level was at .202 of a percent -- more than twice the legal limit for driving -- when he drove his vehicle into a tree on Perryville Road after being pursued by two Cape Girardeau police cruisers Oct. 16, said Cape Girardeau Police Department spokesman Darin Hickey.

Police said at the time the pursuit followed an incident in which a person was threatened by Pyles with a high-powered rifle outside an apartment building. After the crash, officers described Pyles' behavior as "strange," stating that he maintained a slow speed until the crash.

Because of high levels of alcohol in Pyles' blood, the coroner was unable to run tests for any other substances, Hickey said. The cause of death was determined by Coroner John Clifton to be massive trauma.

After the crash, police said they would continue to investigate what happened to see if Pyles was suspected of other criminal acts besides the threat. Hickey said a follow-up investigation showed no other crime victims.

Hickey said the discovery of Pyles' firearm, which matched a witness description, was a turning point in the investigation, confirming Pyles was the suspect who made the threat.

"Because we found the weapon in his vehicle, we didn't have to search or make any other arrests," Hickey said. "That did allow us to answer a few more questions and focus our investigation."

Hickey said there has been "speculation" as to what led to Pyles' behavior that night, but the police were unable to find any evidence.

Pyles had a criminal history including weapons and DUI violations.

srinehart@semissourian.com

388-3641

Pertinent address:

Perryville Road and Rotary Drive, Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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