05/31/04 — Fleeing car crashes into store

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Fleeing car crashes into store

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on May 31, 2004 1:59 PM

A Goldsboro motorist, fleeing late Sunday night from Goldsboro police at about 115 mph, lost control of his car, police said, and flew over a guardrail at a bypass ramp and crashed into Delmus' Hardware store, about 270 feet from the road.

The car ended up inside the store, bursting through a wall. The driver, identified as Leandro Martinez Noriega, 30, of Ivey Court, ended up in the hospital.

Police said he was being pursued by Officer Stacy O. Hatcher after the car had collided with a tractor-trailer about a half-hour earlier.

Ms. Hatcher said the chase happened like this:

Noriega was going west on Dr. M.L. King Jr. Expressway at about 11:24 p.m. between Spence Avenue and Wayne Memorial Drive. A witness told police that a speeding car came up behind her and she changed lanes to get away from it.

Then Noriega tried to move to the left lane of the four-lane divided highway, and the car that he was driving collided with the front of the tractor-trailer and sped away.

Officer Hatcher, going south on Wayne Memorial Drive, saw the collision and pursued the fleeing car. The car then turned around and headed east on the bypass, then turned around again at Oak Forest Road and sped westward.

During the chase, sparks were seen coming from the undercarriage of the car.

The driver crossed the bridge at North Berkeley Boulevard, veered off the right side and went down an embankment. It hit an upgrade and took off like a ski jumper, soaring 30 feet in the air, flying over a guard rail at the exit ramp and crashing into the side of the hardware store. The car landed on its tires in the display room, next to the cash registers.

Store managers were meeting with city officials this morning and deciding how to remove the car and repair the building.

Damage to the building was estimated by police at $200,000.

Police and firefighters responded to the crash. Noriega was taken in a ambulance to Wayne Memorial Hospital, where he was listed today in stable condition, a nursing supervisor said.

Noriega was charged in four citations with suspicion of driving while impaired, felony fleeing to elude arrest, reckless driving, hit and run, failure to heed blue lights or siren, injury to personal property, a stoplight violation and speeding 110 and 100 mph in a 55 mph zone.

The citations will be served when Noriega recovers from his injuries. Then he will be taken before a magistrate who will set the detainee's bond.

The chase was recorded on a video camera in Officer Hatcher's patrol car.

The tractor-trailer, driven by John Thomas Emerson, 39, of Blackstone, Va., for Pate-Dawson Co., sustained about $1,500 in damages in the first wreck.

The car that Noriega was driving was demolished. It sustained about $3,000 in damages in the first wreck and $2,500 in damages in the second collision. The car was registered to Noe De Los Santos, who had the same Ivey Court address as Noriega.

Followup story — Briefly - Delmus' Hardware closed