Local News

Police Officer Collapses, Dies During Chase

Posted January 11, 2007
Updated January 12, 2007

— A Hope Mills police officer died Thursday afternoon of an apparent heart attack during a chase, authorities said.

Sgt. James Hardin, 35, collapsed while he and his dog chased a suspect in a heavily wooded area near Tom Starling Road and U.S. Highway 301 South, authorities said.

Two suspects had stolen gas from a Wal-Mart at about 10 a.m.Thursday, and their car was spotted on South Main Street a few hours later, police said. The two suspects bolted from the car as officers approached.

Police apprehended one suspect and chased the other into woods about two miles away.

Officers with the Fayetteville Police Department, the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office and the State Bureau of Investigation scoured the woods Thursday evening for the second suspect before finding him shortly after 5 p.m., police said.

Ricky Wilson Jr., 23, has been charged with speeding to elude. He also was wanted on two outstanding breaking and entering warrants.

There was no word on whether he could face charges in connection with Hardin's death.

Hardin had been with the Hope Mills Police Department since 1997 and had been promoted to sergeant last June. He is survived by a wife and two children.

“In addition to being a good officer, he was a good friend,” said Police Chief John Hodges. “You can replace officers, but you can't replace friends.”

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  • the pied piper Jan 12, 2007

    People as young as 20 have had heart attacks. Just ask one of my cousins. It doesn't matter WHAT he died of. What matters is that his family will never see or hear or touch him again, and that's the saddest of all. I hope the community will show their love and support for the wife and kids.
    May the Goddess Bless You

  • otsaponi Jan 12, 2007

    Heath was a very good friend of mine...at one point in time were like brothers! He was a proud police officer, and proud Lumbee Indian! We travelled to many powwows together over the years and I will miss him greatly. Heath was a champion dancer at these powwows and therefore was in great shape...that's why this is so hard for me to believe! Please keep his family in your prayers, and the ignorant comments to yourself! PEACE!

  • virgomisty22 Jan 12, 2007

    That officer could have been doing anything and running is apart of an officers job The person runing from his should go to jail for his crime not an officers heart atack . My prayers are with his family .

  • kstor33 Jan 12, 2007

    CMedico...very well stated. People that post ugly and ignorant comments that take no thought usually just want attention...be it bad or good. By responding to them we sometimes encourage bad behavior. Maybe it's best if we just ignore them sometimes. Has anyone seen that movie "The Secret"?

  • dcnktn Jan 12, 2007

    This is an absolute tragedy and I hope his family (especially the wife and children) will find peace in knowing that their loved one is in a better place.
    As for Brand, I am a HP's wife and when I saw this comment, I was appalled and wanted to tell you where to go. You are one heartless SOB. God forbid that the man's wife read it. All the crap being talked about the officer in Wilson tasering a student being wrong because it "didn't have to be done" is bad enough but now people are saying that the perp is not accountable because he didn't do anything. Give me a break, he did do something to be running from an officer. If the officer had tazed the perp then you would have a comment about that. You people who have no respect for law enforcement don't deserve protection. OFFICERS DO WHAT THEY HAVE TO DO TO PROTECT CITIZENS AND THEMSELVES. Although I feel strongly about this being a HP wife, I think the focus should be on the officer's family for a life that was cut short so early

  • nisa-pizza Jan 12, 2007

    How sad that someone would make a joke about someone's passing like that. I highly doubt Brand would have as many heart-felt online condolences from total strangers when his time comes. Somehow there's a bit of poetic justice there.

    Anyone who puts their life on the line everyday they go to work is to be admired, commended and mourned if they die in the line of duty. My prayers are with his family.

  • gabbieaprilrenee Jan 12, 2007

    This is tragic, however I I don't think that the criminal should face a charge because of the officers death. I work in healthcare and heart attacks happen all the time to people who appear to be in great health. The LORD decides when it is your time not a criminal you are chasing.

  • rpdwife05 Jan 12, 2007

    “Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God.”

    Thank you Sgt. Hardin, your job here on earth is done and God has a place for you in his department. Please watch over your fellow officers still walking the thin blue line.

    My heart goes out to the family and friends of Sgt. Hardin as well as the Hope Mills Police Department. Let us remember the sacrifice this man and many others like him have made for the safety of strangers.

    Rest Peacefully Sir.

  • spiritwarriorwoman Jan 12, 2007

    Sometimes heart attacks happen to otherwise healthy people. This officer looked fit, and I do believe they are required to have yearly physicals. So to condemn this officer for this happening is not only ludicrous but is devilishly ignorant as well.
    My prayers go out to the loved ones of this angel in blue, and to all emergency workers, angels without wings, everywhere, for without them, this world would be in worse shape than it already is and we should be thankful for and supportive of them.
    God bless.
    Rev. RB

  • Munchie Jan 12, 2007

    I have to agree with albritton76. My heart goes out his loved ones.