Local News

Police Officer Collapses, Dies During Chase

Posted January 11, 2007 3:40 p.m. EST
Updated January 12, 2007 9:47 a.m. EST

— 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.”