SC public safety officials to review York County police pursuit where 2 killed

Police chase along an interstate ends with car ramming into a tree

A Toyota Prius engaged in a police chase on I-77 S passing Nations Ford, Woodlawn and Tyvola.
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A Toyota Prius engaged in a police chase on I-77 S passing Nations Ford, Woodlawn and Tyvola.

South Carolina public safety officials will review a police pursuit where two people were killed in a fire and crash after a chase in York County.

The state probe is separate from a York County and Rock Hill police investigation into the pursuit and crash.

York County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Rock Hill Police Department accident reconstruction officers are investigating because the chase involved S.C. Highway Patrol troopers, said Trent Faris, sheriff’s office spokesperson.

No police officers were injured, Faris said.

York County Coroner’s Office officials have not yet released the identities of the two people who were in a car that police said was stolen last week in Charlotte. A third person, whose identity has not yet been released, was injured in the Interstate 77 crash and fire. The extent of that person’s injuries is unclear.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police first tried to pull the car over with patrol cars, then followed the car with a helicopter before the highway pursuit started in South Carolina, officials said.

The troopers involved in the pursuit after it moved into York County were ·Cpl. R.S. Bennett, Cpl. M.J. Shank, and Trooper D. R. Primes, said Capt. Roger Hughes of the S.C. Department of Public Safety.

The pursuit and incident is under review by the department of public safety’s Office of Professional Responsibility, Hughes said. The highway patrol is a division of the public safety department.

During the chase, officers used a Precision Immobilization Technique to try and box the fleeing vehicle in, Hughes said. Hughes said the goal of the PIT maneuver is to safely end the pursuit as quickly as possible. The incident report from the pursuit was not available Friday afternoon, Hughes said.

Sheriff’s deputies met Friday about the investigation but new details about the crash and what caused the car to catch fire after it hit a tree were not available. York County deputies are investigating because the suspects crashed into troopers during the highway pursuit, Faris said.

The pursuit and crash happened Thursday on southbound I-77 from Charlotte into York County, causing traffic to be backed up for several miles. Police did not report any injuries or related crashes from other drivers.

S.C. Highway Patrol Sgt. Bill Rhyne said troopers picked up the pursuit of a stolen vehicle after a Be On the Lookout was issued by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

Troopers caught up with the red Toyota Prius near mile marker 83 on I-77 southbound around 4:30 p.m., Rhyne said. State troopers tried to stop the car twice on the highway, Rhyne said.

The driver of the car being pursued hit a trooper police car during the attempt to stop the suspects, Rhyne said.

The suspect vehicle went off I-77 southbound at the Porter Road exit at mile marker 75 hitting a tree and caught fire, Rhyne said.

Charlotte police said the car was reported stolen April 11 from Willow Park Drive. The owner last saw the car April 6, said Cindy Wallace, CMPD public affairs officer.

The vehicle was used in a robbery on April 10, Wallace said.

Around 4:15 p.m. Thursday, CMPD officers located the vehicle in the 5100 block of Park Road, Wallace said. Patrol officers attempted to stop the vehicle but did not pursue it on the highway.

“Officers deactivated their emergency equipment and did not pursue the vehicle,” Wallace said in a statement to The Herald.

A helicopter followed the vehicle from the air, Wallace said.

“The aviation unit followed the vehicle into South Carolina, where (S.C. Highway Patrol) responded,” Wallace said.

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