Thursday, March 07, 2013 5:40 PM
Police chase wrong-way driver at 120 mph
By Corey Friedman | Times Online Editor
A shoplifting suspect led authorities on a 120-mph chase through Wilson County on Thursday, at times driving the wrong way on U.S. 301.
Police, sheriff’s deputies and state troopers chased the car from Nashville to Smithfield, a distance spanning three counties, and the driver hadn’t been captured late Thursday.
The chase began in Nashville when police stopped a late-model white Toyota Avalon sedan on Eastern Avenue. Walmart employees called police and reported that a man accused of stealing from Walmart stores across North Carolina was inside.
"We did a traffic stop, and when officers got out of the car to approach him, he drove off,” Nashville Police Chief Thomas Bashore said. "That’s when the chase started.”
Police pursued the Toyota to Winstead Avenue, where Nash County sheriff’s deputies continued the chase.
Nash deputies "discontinued due to traffic conditions being too dangerous to continue,” sheriff’s Capt. Pat Joyner said.
The driver entered Wilson County shortly after 1 p.m. An emergency dispatcher said the car was traveling at 120 mph and was driving southbound into oncoming traffic on U.S. 301 North.
Bashore said the driver reached a top speed of about 80 mph in Nashville. The posted speed limit on those roads was 45 mph and 55 mph.
"Any time you go above the speed limit, you’re putting the public in danger,” he said. "He was going well above the speed limit and he was passing cars on the right side of the road.”
Wilson County sheriff’s deputies and Wilson police continued the chase, but authorities lost sight of the car on Black Creek Road near the Wilson city limits. An N.C. Highway Patrol trooper spotted the suspect minutes later on U.S. 264.
Authorities followed the driver onto Interstate 95. Dispatchers said the car was spotted going north and later traveling south on the interstate. The suspect drove south into Johnston County.
Bashore said the driver was last believed to be in or near Smithfield.
Authorities didn’t have the suspect’s name, but Bashore described him as a black man with his hair dyed blond standing about 6 feet, 2 inches tall and weighing about 240 pounds.
The Toyota Avalon’s license plate number was ABF-5092, a tag that had been reported stolen, according to the Nash County Sheriff’s Office.
Police ask those with information on the suspect’s identity or whereabouts to call the Nashville Police Department at 459-4545 or contact their local law enforcement agency.
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