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Two Killed When Three-County Car Chase Ends in Crash

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ZEBULON — A three-county car chase ended with a deadly crash in Wake County early Saturday.

Troopers say Russell Hahnel, 27, of Zebulon, ran a stop sign near the Franklin County town of Bunn. When he was pulled over, troopers say Hahnel sped off.

A Bunn police officer and two Franklin County deputies chased Hahnel and his passenger, Sandy Walker, 36, of Zebulon, through three counties.

Officers asked theN.C. Highway Patrolfor help when the chase turned down Highway 64 into Wake County. But just before troopers could join the chase, investigators say Hahnel slammed on the brakes and threw the car into reverse at a high speed.

Trooper M.A. Devalle swerved to avoid a collision, but he hit the car, killing Hahnel and Walker just before 2 a.m. along Highway 64 West, just east of Zebulon.

Hahnel's family members say the young husband and father was bright and outgoing. They cannot understand why he did not stop.

"We're all in a cloud here trying to sort out what's going on," says Hahnel's brother, Stan Hahnel. "We want to know why."

Russell Hahnel was self-employed. He remodeled homes in the Zebulon area. He had a 4-year-old daughter, Corrine. Sandy Walker was a divorced mother of two, also from the Zebulon area.

Trooper Devalle was treated and released from the hospital Saturday morning and could be back on the job by the end of next week.

Officers say there was an odor of alcohol in the car, but they are still in the preliminary stages of the investigation. It may be weeks before they release any kind of final report. andRichard Adkins

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Julia Lewis, Reporter
Lynn French, Photographer
Brian Shrader, Web Editor

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