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Troopers' actions after high-speed chase saved two lives

Posted November 19, 2012

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— Two North Carolina State Highway Patrol troopers helped save the lives of two people over the weekend after a high-speed chase in Durham County that ended in a fiery crash and one person’s death.

Authorities said Monday that the driver of a Chrysler Crossfire was traveling at speeds of up to 140 mph early Saturday along N.C. Highway 98 when he lost control of his car, crossed the center line and hit a moving truck with two people inside.

That's when both vehicles burst into flames. The driver of the Crossfire, who still had not been positively identified Monday evening, died.

State troopers J.T. Mitchell and J.J. Garrett, however, were able to rescue both people in the truck. They were taken to a local hospital with minor injuries and were later released.

"You can't really describe it – the scene, with the fire and the debris. It was pretty bad," Mitchell said.

Mitchell crashed his cruiser into a utility pole while trying to avoid the fire. He was cut between his eyes.

Moving truck Troopers' actions after high-speed chase saved two lives

Investigators said the Crossfire's driver had turned around to avoid a DWI checkpoint near North Adams Road. It's unclear why he tried to avoid the checkpoint.

The Highway Patrol is investigating the chase and the wreck, which is standard protocol.

Highway Patrol spokesman First Sgt. Jeff Gordon said there is a protocol for engaging in high-speed chases.

"We look at several factors, including traffic on the roadway, the time of day that this is occurring," Gordon said. "Also, you may know, at that particular point, depending on how close you are to that individual, if there is some type of violation."

Gordon said that troopers are trained to make split-second decisions and that they can also decide to end a pursuit if the public's safety is in jeopardy.

The troopers say they don't regret how they handled the chase, just the outcome.

"It's rough," Mitchell said. "Of course, our condolences go out to the family, because somebody has lost their life. It could have been a lot worse."

93 Comments

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  • piene2 Nov 21, 1:37 p.m.

    " Why hasn't a follow-up story been posted?
    LonnieD"

    You are kidding us right? There will be no followup story. There never is a followup story when a cop goes overboard and kills someone.

  • LonnieD Nov 21, 1:08 p.m.

    Have they identified the driver yet? What was he presumed guilty of? I wonder if it was a capital crime. I really doubt it. Why hasn't a follow-up story been posted?

  • BEACH Nov 20, 4:11 p.m.

    Well at least troopers will stop and help you most of the time, on my way home yesterday a little boy had fell off his bike and got hurt, I turned around & came back cause he was laying on the grass, his brother was beside him. A CUMBERLAND CO DEPUTY STOPPED said does he need medical att, I said No I do not think so and he gets in his car and drives off, leavingme stanging beside the boy on the ground. He could have helped him up and offered to take him home which is what I did. A NC STATE TROOPER would have helped there is no doubt in my mine. SO THANKS FOR WHAT YOU DO DAILY.

  • umpcop Nov 20, 4:04 p.m.

    The police department I worked for in Florida put an end to police pursuits and in the three years it was in effect, not one person caused me to chase them. Our department put the policy into effect when a couple on their honeymoon was killed by a guy who was running from the police because he had not insurance. Two people killed, the driver to the hospital then to jail for 15 yrs. Police department sued. I'm telling you out there, if your mother, father, sister, child, brother, best friend was killed because of police officers chasing someone in a 2000 lbs. vehicle because of a minor traffic violation, you would think differently.

    I will admit, it's a catch 22 situation, they don't chase the guy and he's drunk, hits someone and kills them, then the police are criticized for not catching him/her. But I would rather error on the side that after the police stop the chase; the person will slow down and try to blend into the traffic.

  • RealStory Nov 20, 3:35 p.m.

    I love all the ignorant people saying "high speed chases must stop". Hmm.. if you could avoid every ticket, traffic stop, or checkpoint by merely running.... how many MORE people do you think would? Many people running are driving with no license, insurance, etc. Many felons, wanted folks, the list goes on and on.

    Cops deal with pathetic pay and with the biggest scum on the earth. You have to work with the cards you're dealt

  • HarleyMan66 Nov 20, 3:27 p.m.

    Their lives were put at stake too when the driver decided to elude the checkpoint and speed at 140 mph. Instead of asking why did they chase why not ask why didn't the drive just pull over???????? Justwondering

    No, the troopers lives were put at stake when they decided to chase a man for turning around to aviod a checkpoint.

  • charmcclainlovesdogs2 Nov 20, 3:23 p.m.

    Many officers speed unnecessarily when they should absolutely should not be doing so. You see it all the time.

  • charmcclainlovesdogs2 Nov 20, 3:22 p.m.

    Even though the criminals took off at a high speed, maybe the officers should have back off some, call ahead, put some of those pikes out. Try getting a license tag No. because you can always go later and arrest the criminal. Think of the ordinary innocent citizen YOU officer that you may encounter while YOU are speeding too.

  • charmcclainlovesdogs2 Nov 20, 3:15 p.m.

    If one officer driving down the road cannot stop me just to see what I'm doing, then why is it okay for 12 or 15 officers to stop me in a "safety check point?"

    You just need to learn to OBEY THE LAW. But I do get your point.

  • umpcop Nov 20, 3:02 p.m.

    I am not attacking the officer's involved, I was one of those guys, and I know what they go through. If this guy had not run and he was arrested for DUI, he would get a fine, community service, probation, etc... Not the death penalty. Yes, he make a choice to run from the police, but if he had busted a red-light or stop sign running from the police and crashed into one of your family members you would be grieving. And there is no guarantee that the person running from the police would slow down, but there is a chance he would have after the police were out of his site. I feel that these check points are a violation of our constitutional rights. The constitution says that we are secure in our person or property, that the police or law enforcement must have reasonable suspicion to stop us when we are driving our car. If one officer driving down the road cannot stop me just to see what I'm doing, then why is it okay for 12 or 15 officers to stop me in a "safety check point?"

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