UNION COUNTY, N.C. — A Union County Sheriff’s Office (UCSO) sergeant is recovering after an attempted traffic stop led to a chase and crash.
Tony Underwood, chief communications officer for UCSO, said around 3:30 a.m. Thursday, a deputy clocked a Chevrolet Camaro going 76 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone in Wingate.
The deputy initiated a traffic stop, Underwood said, and the car pulled over near Stewart Street and U.S. 74. As the deputy was approaching the vehicle, Underwood said the Camaro sped off.
The deputy pursued the suspect vehicle going west on U.S. 74 toward Monroe, reaching speeds of nearly 120 miles per hour, Underwood said.
The Camaro attempted to get off U.S. 74 at Skyway Drive, and as the car was exiting the ramp, Underwood said it went airborne and hit a UCSO sergeant’s patrol car that was attempting to intercept the chase.
Underwood said the Camaro overturned with two people inside, and they were taken to the hospital where they were treated and released. The UCSO sergeant suffered minor injuries.
"Could have been tragic to that deputy, to that sergeant,” Underwood said. “If he had been five or 10 feet further west, if it had struck him in direct impact on the driver's side door, who knows what the outcome could have been.”
Earlier this week a South Carolina state trooper was shot during a traffic stop, and last month, Mooresville Police Department lost K9 Officer Jordan Sheldon during what was supposed to be a routine traffic stop.
Underwood said traffic stops are one of the basic components of law enforcement training and are a necessary part of any officer’s job.
“It’s one of those things that you have to do,” Underwood said. “We have to be out there on the streets. We have to be visible, and we have to look for people that are dangerous to the public. That’s one of our key missions.”
Underwood said law enforcement officers are trained to expect the unexpected when it comes to traffic stops, but he said they can be dangerous because officers never know who they’re dealing with behind the wheel.
"You never know what you're going to encounter, you never know how compliant the driver of that vehicle might actually be,” Underwood added.
Deputies identified the driver in Thursday morning’s incident as 26-year-old Rashaun Harris of Charlotte. Harris faces charges for Driving While Impaired, Felony Speeding to Elude Arrest, as well as numerous other traffic-related offenses.