ELIZABETH CITY, NC -- Two police officers barely avoided injury and their cruisers sustained about $8,000 in damage when a man who police attempted to stop for traffic violations fled, and in the course of the chase, purposely hit both of their vehicles. Iin one case, he barely missed the officer, who was outside her car. When she eventually caught up to him, he assaulted her before fleeing.
The incident began early Sunday morning, shortly after 2 a.m. when the suspect, later identified as Antone Tremaine Whidbee, was seen driving a gray Mercury Marquis, travelling at a high rate of speed on Ehringhaus Street.
A detailed account provided by the Elizabeth City Police Department picks up the story fom there:
"The vehicle made an abrupt turn onto McArthur Drive and continued to Hughes Boulevard where it failed to stop for a stop light prior to turning north. Officer Bullock activated his emergency equipment and began to stop the vehicle. Once upon the stop light at Church Street the suspect vehicle drove into oncoming traffic to avoid the stop light and then proceeded north. Due to the amount of cars and the impending safety to other drivers near the Church Street intersection the officer slowed his response to await oncoming traffic to clear and lost sight of the vehicle which was estimated to be traveling at 90+ mph.
"Two other ECPD officers were alerted to the fleeing vehicle and set up in the area of NU Quality Ice Cream. During which time the suspect vehicle had turned off of Hughes Boulevard and executed several turns in an attempt to elude responding officers.
"Officers located the suspect vehicle again on Hughes Boulevard traveling at a high rate of speed passing vehicles and nearly missing them as he swerved around them, causing one vehicle to run off the road. Sergeant Michael Marriner and Officer Heather Deluca re-engaged the suspect vehicle temporarily but due to its excessive speed estimated at 100+ miles per hour it began to pull away.
"Officers continued and caught up to the vehicle near Knobs Creek Drive and engaged in attempting to stop the vehicle. After following the vehicle for less than a mile the vehicle slowed to between 60-70 mph at times due to what appeared to be mechanical failure.
"The two officers continued to follow the vehicle out of town and upon nearing the intersection of North Side Road the vehicle lost control overshot the turn and crossed the median before dodging an electric pole and going into a ditch.
"Officers felt like the impending pursuit was over and positioned their vehicles on the roadway as they were exiting to affect an arrest. During this time the suspect vehicle accelerated out of the ditch and toward a police cruiser driven by Sgt. Michael Marriner. The vehicle headed directly toward Sgt. Marriner’s driver’s door when the officer was able to drive forward and avoid a direct hit. The vehicle struck Marriner’s patrol unit at the driver’s side rear tire disabling that vehicle.
"The vehicle then continued to drive toward Officer Heather Deluca who was outside of her vehicle at the time. Officer Deluca was able to avoid being hit but the suspect vehicle drove into the front end of her police cruiser before backing up and continuing down North Side Road.
"Officer Deluca was able to re-engage and followed the vehicle to a dead end on Tift lane where it u-turned and came back toward officer Deluca before turning off the roadway and entering the back yard of 110 Tift Lane.
"The vehicle came to a stop and the driver, later identified as Antone Tremaine Whidbee briefly engaged Officer Deluca prior to fleeing on foot."
They also said that "No officers were injured as a result of this incident."
Police said that Whidbee turned himself into police at around 7 p.m. Sunday. His bond was set at $300,000 (secured). He's currently in the Albemarle County Jail awaiting his first court appearance.
Whidbee faces the following charges:
2 Felony Counts of Assault with a Deadly Weapon with the Intent to Kill
2 Counts of Injury to Personal Property
2 Counts of Hit and Run
1 Felony Count of Speeding to Elude Arrest
1 Count of Driving While License Revoked
1 Count of Careless and Reckless Driving
1 Count of Speeding 100+ MPH in a 45 MPH Work zone
1 Count of Littering
1 Count of Expired Vehicle Registration
1 Count of Transporting an open container of Spirituous Liquor
1 Count of Operating a vehicle with no Currant Inspection
1 Count of Failing to Stop at a Stop Light
Police said that total estimated damage to the two city police cruisers was approximately $8,000.00. They said thatWhidbee's abandoned car had been processed, but they didn't have an estimate of damage that it had sustained in the chase and ensuing wrecks.