Local News

Woman Arrested After High-Speed Chase in Wilson, Nash Counties

Posted March 26, 2008 2:57 p.m. EDT
Updated March 26, 2008 8:44 p.m. EDT

— Authorities in Wilson detained and charged a woman Wednesday afternoon following a 30-minute pursuit with speeds up to 80 mph through Nash County, then back through Wilson.

Donna Michelle Russ, 35, was arrested on a number of charges, including felony eluding arrest, assault on a government official, speeding and careless and reckless driving.

Russ was also charged with felony child endangerment – authorities said Russ' 9-year-old daughter was in the car during the chase.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol said the chase began about 12:30 p.m. when a Wilson County sheriff's deputy spotted a vehicle matching that of a woman wanted on robbery charges in another county.

It ended on Airport Road near N.C. Highway 58 when a sheriff's deputy tried a PIT  maneuver to bring a safe ending to the chase, the Highway Patrol said. The woman's vehicle spun into oncoming traffic, however, and hit a car head-on.

"PIT" is derived from "precision intervention tactic" and other terms, all beginning with  PIT. It involves a police car using its front end to push the rear end of the car it is pursuing sideways to send that car into a skid and end a chase.

A witness working in a nearby nail salon said she heard cars racing up the road, then a loud bang. That's when a woman jumped out of the car and tried to run from authorities.

There did not appear any life-threatening injuries. The driver of the other vehicle, whose name was not released, was taken to a local hospital, where her condition was not immediately available.

Maj. John Farmer with the Wilson County Sheriff's Office, said the "PIT maneuver" was the last option for officers and that authorities followed proper procedure.

"We were worried she was going to kill someone," he said.

The chase had been going on for too long, he said, and Russ was running red lights, ramming patrol cars and weaving through traffic.

"If we had let it go and she'd run an intersection and hurt someone or hurt the child or hurt herself, we would have been second-guessed," Farmer said. "By doing an offensive maneuver, we're going to be second-guessed."

Russ was wanted in Robeson County on a number of charges, including common law robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, inflicting serious injury, eluding arrest and reckless driving. Authorities said she had allegedly assaulted an elderly woman and stole a car.

Numerous arrest warrants had also been issued for Russ for failing to appear in Wilson County Court for previous traffic offenses and a charge of possession of stolen property.