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Woman Arrested After High-Speed Chase in Wilson, Nash Counties

Posted March 26, 2008

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— Authorities in Wilson detained and charged a woman Wednesday afternoon following a 30-minute pursuit with speeds up to 80 mph through Nash County, then back through Wilson.

Donna Michelle Russ, 35, was arrested on a number of charges, including felony eluding arrest, assault on a government official, speeding and careless and reckless driving.

Russ was also charged with felony child endangerment – authorities said Russ' 9-year-old daughter was in the car during the chase.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol said the chase began about 12:30 p.m. when a Wilson County sheriff's deputy spotted a vehicle matching that of a woman wanted on robbery charges in another county.

It ended on Airport Road near N.C. Highway 58 when a sheriff's deputy tried a PIT  maneuver to bring a safe ending to the chase, the Highway Patrol said. The woman's vehicle spun into oncoming traffic, however, and hit a car head-on.

"PIT" is derived from "precision intervention tactic" and other terms, all beginning with  PIT. It involves a police car using its front end to push the rear end of the car it is pursuing sideways to send that car into a skid and end a chase.

A witness working in a nearby nail salon said she heard cars racing up the road, then a loud bang. That's when a woman jumped out of the car and tried to run from authorities.

There did not appear any life-threatening injuries. The driver of the other vehicle, whose name was not released, was taken to a local hospital, where her condition was not immediately available.

Maj. John Farmer with the Wilson County Sheriff's Office, said the "PIT maneuver" was the last option for officers and that authorities followed proper procedure.

"We were worried she was going to kill someone," he said.

The chase had been going on for too long, he said, and Russ was running red lights, ramming patrol cars and weaving through traffic.

"If we had let it go and she'd run an intersection and hurt someone or hurt the child or hurt herself, we would have been second-guessed," Farmer said. "By doing an offensive maneuver, we're going to be second-guessed."

Russ was wanted in Robeson County on a number of charges, including common law robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, inflicting serious injury, eluding arrest and reckless driving. Authorities said she had allegedly assaulted an elderly woman and stole a car.

Numerous arrest warrants had also been issued for Russ for failing to appear in Wilson County Court for previous traffic offenses and a charge of possession of stolen property.

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  • camanderikfan Mar 27, 2008

    I'm just glad they stopped her before she approached the intersection at 58 and Airport. That intersection is very busy and it could have ended in a fatality. It doesn't really matter what they did to stop her because someone will always find reason to complain. The little girl is safe and being a mother myself I wouldn't be as upset knowing that they were trying to protect her if it had been my family or friend involved in the accident.

  • nccopper Mar 27, 2008

    Having personally been involved in a high speed chase that ended in a fatality I know what is involved on both sides. I was sued by the deceased family for performing my duties as a police officer. End the end the case went all the way to the NC Supreme Court. I was vendicated and the case is now the standard for police pursuits in NC. Parrish vs Hill is the case law from 1999. Law Enforcement have tough thankless jobs until you are the one that needs their help. Support your law enforcement...the THIN BLUE LINE !

  • purplepat777 Mar 27, 2008

    Let's lay the blame where it belongs. If I or my loved one(s) get hit by a car during a police chase, it is the fault of the one doing the running and not the fault of the police that are trying to stop them. There wouldn't be a chase if the suspect wouldn't flee!!

  • something2say Mar 27, 2008

    Support our local LEO! They are what we have to count on when we need help!

  • b4self Mar 27, 2008

    That poor child , who knows what she has allready been through in her short life. Maybe now she will have some peace with someone that loves her, hope she doesn't end up with someone worse , but it could happen , praying for her , as for leo GetRight said it all.

  • twc Mar 27, 2008

    The greater risk was allowing the chase to continue. They did what they are trained to do and what they had to do! If they had not done what was necessary some innocent people could have been killed; including the child!! She needs to get whatever the maximum is and it needs to run consecutively! The biggest risk in this case is going to be what some bleeding heart judge or jury will do!

  • methinks Mar 27, 2008

    About the bond, there are limits and guidelines on bonds. So with what she was charged with that sounds like the max.

  • methinks Mar 27, 2008

    Living in Wilson, I can honestly say that the WPD and WCSO are great. Just the other day I was impressed when a motorist had broken down on Raliegh Rd Pkwy, and a WPD officer was out there pushing the car off the road. A few days later, a WCSO was at the intersection of Forest Hills and Raleigh Rd Pkwy and stopped traffic in one lane because of a broken down car. These guys do more than just chase criminals. They help the citizens of Wilson. So leave them alone.

  • dukebbfan Mar 27, 2008

    Just read the article in wilson's paper. $93,900 secured bond. How in the world did they come up with this odd amt. It being a secured bond does that mean the entire amt has to be paid? Hope no one pays the bond and she has to sit in jail. Hopefully there is a family member or a friend that could be a good role model for this child and she can go stay with them. The daughter has been through enough.

  • GetRight Mar 27, 2008

    Panther - I love your comment about people getting their brakes done at Midas. It's true!

    ROFLMAO

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