Authorities said the five men may have been trying to rob the First National Bank in Erwin. They were speeding in their car when it struck the woman's Jaguar about 4:30 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. 401 and N.C. 210, Harnett County according to Sheriff Larry Rollins.
The driver of the Jaguar reportedly was trying to enter N.C. 210 from the parking lot of a shopping center when the wreck happened.
The suspects' car, a white Lincoln Continental, appeared to have struck the Jaguar on the driver's side near the door. A witness said the contact was so violent that it lifted the back end of the Continental off the ground.
The Continental burst into flames as police converged on the vehicle and pulled out the suspects.
Another car, a Honda, also was involved in the wreck. The driver of that car and the five suspects were hurt and were taken to a hospital.
A worker at the First National Bank said she saw the men and noticed they were trying to hide their faces. She locked the door and called police.
The men left the bank, Rollins said, and authorities found the suspects' speeding Continental headed north on U.S. 421 toward Lillington.
Authorities chased the men for about eight miles, he said.
"The pursuing officers never got close to them," Rollins said. "....They were throwing evidence out of the window."
Rollins said officers stationed three miles ahead of the suspects set up stop sticks, including one 300 feet from the intersection where the crash happened. But they kept going, reaching speeds estimated near 100 miles per hour.
"They sped right on through," Rollins said.
The Harnett County Sheriff's Department, the Coats Police Department and the Highway Patrol were involved in the chase. The State Bureau of Investigation is assisting with the case.
Janice Lane, who works at a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant near where the wreck happened, said she heard the sirens, then the crash.
"It sounded like it was in the building with us," Lane said.
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