A man police say eluded them as they tried to stop him for speeding ran a red light, lost control of his van and slammed into a tree, causing the van's engine to fall out and briefly snagging traffic near the intersection of S.C. 5 and Herlong Avenue on Saturday, authorities said.
Jerrick Foster was alive when he was airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, Sgt. Mike Smothers of the Rock Hill Police Department said.
Foster was in critical condition Saturday night, a hospital spokeswoman said.
The single-vehicle collision happened around 5 p.m. Saturday near the Meadowlakes subdivision.
Never miss a local story.
Dr. Matthew Schwartz, an orthopaedic doctor who had just left work at Piedmont Medical Center, said he witnessed the wreck while he was waiting at the intersection.
"I stopped as he was coming around me," Schwartz said. "I thought he was going to hit somebody.
"He ran the red light, lost control and hit the tree," Schwartz said. "The engine came out of the minivan right away."
Meanwhile, Laura Wagner sat across the street in her vehicle with her 10-month-old daughter, Ava.
"He looked like he was about to swerve into me," an emotional Wagner said. "My life flashed before me. It was very scary."
Schwartz said he and another doctor rushed to help Foster.
"We just worked on stabilizing him," Schwartz said. Schwartz estimated Foster was in his late 20s to early 30s.
Officials cut the top off the white van to free Foster as neighbors looked on. The van stopped about 100 feet from a brick house.
Foster was traveling west on Herlong Avenue, Smothers said. Officials had not determined how fast Foster was traveling when he slammed into the tree, breaking it into pieces, Smothers said.
"A witness said he came through the intersection at a high rate of speed," Smothers said. "The front end of the van struck the tree. The engine separated from the impact."
Minutes before the wreck, police were attempting to stop Foster, he said.
"We tried to stop him earlier for speeding, but we had already terminated our pursuit," he said.
Smothers could not say how fast Foster was driving when police pursued him.