Local News

Grieving Mother Wants to Talk to Cop Involved in Fatal Chase

Posted December 3, 2007 5:56 a.m. EST
Updated December 4, 2007 12:58 p.m. EST

— A mother who lost two of her children in a crash stemming from a high-speed police chase in Franklinton wants to hear from the officer involved in the chase.

A 13-mile police chase ended Saturday with a head-on collision and three people dead. Linsay Lunsford, 18, and her 9-year-old sister, Maggie, were killed when their Kia crashed into a Pontiac driven by Guy Christopher Ayscue, 38, of Henderson.

Mary Ann Lunsford, the girls' mother, said police need to take a look at how the chase was handled. She also said "the whole thing needs to be revamped."

Ayscue was being pursued by Franklinton police Officer Michael Dunlap. Earlier, Dunlap noticed Asyscue driving erratically on N.C. Highway 56. Dunlap tried to stop Ayscue using his lights and siren, but Ayscue drove off, police said.

Surveillance video from a Franklinton convenience store, released Sunday, showed Ayscue speeding through a stoplight on the wrong side of the road.

“The vehicle came into Franklinton at a high rate of speed, driving very carelessly and erratic,” said Franklinton Police Chief Ray Gilliam.

Police said the chase continued for 13 miles, with Ayscue speeding into oncoming traffic several times, including one time when he narrowly avoided a car driven by North Carolina Sen. Doug Berger.

Ayscue was traveling north on U.S. Highway 15 and went to pass another vehicle in a no-passing zone when his vehicle crashed head-on into a 1999 Kia with Linsay and Maggie Lunsford inside. Both siblings and Ayscue died in the accident.

Liz Lee, Linsay and Maggie's sister, said she wonders whether police should have continued the chase for as long as he did.

"They killed her. They took my sisters and I'll never get to touch them again, and that is one thing I can't deal with right now," she said.

Police estimate that Ayscue was traveling 90 mph at the time of the crash. Police consultant Jon Blum, who was not involved in the accident and subsequent investigation, said he believed the chase became too dangerous to pursue.

"The sooner you can stop it from happening, that's the best way you can go," he said.

Police said they believed Dunlap followed proper procedure in the chase.

“As of now, we have not found anything in violation or infraction of violating the policy as it stands now," Gilliam said. "But then again, we are still conducting interviews, not only with the officer but witnesses, too.”

Lunsford said the family would like to talk to Dunlap directly to find out from him what happened.

Dunlap has served less than two years on the Franklinton police force. He is on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into the chase and crash.

Funeral arrangements have been made for Linsay and Maggie Lunsford. A visitation will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Gentry, Newell and Vaughn Funeral Home in Oxford. A funeral is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Mount Energy Elementary School, where Maggie was a fourth-grader. The family will have a private burial Thursday.

Franklinton Town Attorney Mitch Styers was expected to brief the Town Council on the chase at 6 p.m. Monday. He said this type of briefing is routine anytime the town could be sued.

Donations for the Lunsford family may be sent to:

Lunsford Family
c/o Stem United Methodist Church
P.O. Box 10
Stem, NC 27581