DEPUTIES: Man arrested after crashing during chase, jumping off bridge, throwing stolen gun

Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 8:01 PM EDT
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EDGECOMBE COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - Edgecombe County deputies say they have arrested a man after they say he got caught speeding, drove off from a traffic stop, crashed, jumped 14 feet off a bridge, and then tried to ditch a stolen gun.

The Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office says around 1 p.m. Wednesday, deputies measured a car going 83 mph in a 70 mph zone on US 64 bypass near the Kingsboro Road exit.

Deputies say they made a traffic stop, were about to give the driver a written warning, ordered the driver to shut his engine off, and as they were using a K-9 during the stop, the driver put the vehicle in drive and sped off.

WITN is told that the older model Mercury Grand Marquis was going speeds over 100 mph as deputies chased. Once the chase got to a construction zone near the Highway 258 exit, deputies say they backed off to be safe.

However, the sheriff’s office says the driver changed lanes in the construction zone and crashed into an unoccupied truck owned by the construction company working on the Tar River bridge. The driver then jumped off the bridge 14 feet onto the ground and after getting up, ran down a path and “was seen throwing a handgun into the Tar River.”

The driver, identified as 34-year-old Willie Hardison, was taken into custody, but because of his injuries, he was taken to ECU Health Edgecombe Hospital for treatment for minor injuries.

Deputies say with the help of the Tar River Dive Team, they were able to find the thrown gun in 8 feet of water. It was found to be a gun reported stolen by the sheriff’s office in December 2021.

We’re told that charges on Hardison are pending after his release from the hospital.

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