Two women were behind bars Thursday after leading officers on an early-morning chase during which their vehicle struck a building and sideswiped patrol cars, Decatur police said.
Officers arrested driver Crystal Ann Hitt, 21, of 1908 Red Bank Road, Decatur, and her passenger, Shana Gayle Howard, 18, of 1010 North Seneca Drive, Trinity, after Hitt’s car ran off Central Parkway Southwest and crashed into a ditch between 14th Street and Bluebird Lane.
Both ran but were caught after a brief foot pursuit, police spokesman Lt. John Crouch said.
Crouch said the chase began about 2:30 a.m. when officer Zachary Blanton tried to stop Hitt on Sixth Avenue Southeast just north of Beltline Road. Crouch said Blanton recognized Hitt from previous encounters and knew she was wanted on an outstanding warrant.
After initially stopping for Blanton, Hitt sped away from the traffic stop, heading north on Sixth Avenue, Crouch said.
Hitt tried to turn west onto 11th Street but lost control of her
car and struck the S.S. Nesbitt Insurance building on the northwest corner of the intersection, Crouch said.
Carolyn Prater at S.S. Nesbitt said the collision didn’t cause any apparent structural damage. Some paint was visible on an outside wall.
No one was in the office at the time.
“There was some debris out there, and one of the men picked it up,” Prater said.
The chase went back south
on Sixth Avenue, west on 14th Street and then south on Central Parkway, where Hitt again lost control and crashed.
Officers found crack pipes on both women, Crouch said.
Blanton and a second patrol car pursued Hitt for about five minutes. Crouch said Hitt’s speed “didn’t get much over 60 mph because she was constantly stopping or turning” and at one point, one of the officers reached 80 mph.
Hitt stopped twice during the pursuit and waited for officers to get out of their cars and approach before driving into their patrol cars, nearly striking the officers in the process, Crouch said.
After hitting the insurance building, Hitt “made a big U and crossed 11th and pulled into the parking lot across the street,” where the officers hemmed her in and got out of their vehicles, he said.
“She didn’t full-on ram them. She basically just went down the side of the cars and pushed her way past the cars to get back out on the road,” Crouch said.
The same thing happened in the parking lot of Superior Carpets and Floor Coverings on 14th Street, he said.
No one was injured. Crouch said both police cars were driven from the scene and the damage is repairable. It was estimated at $2,100 for one car and $1,800 for the other.
Hitt was arrested on the warrant for failure to appear in court and charges of attempting to flee and elude, reckless driving, resisting arrest, driving under the influence, possession of drug paraphernalia and four counts of leaving the scene of an accident. All are misdemeanors.
“I fully expect there will be more charges filed against her,” Crouch said.
Hitt could face criminal mischief charges for the damage to the police cars and reckless endangerment charges for nearly hitting the officers, Crouch said.
She was being held in Decatur City Jail in lieu of $5,000 bail.
Howard was being held in lieu of $1,000 bail on misdemeanor charges of possessing drug paraphernalia and resisting arrest.
Seth Burkett can be reached at 256-340-2446 or email@example.com.
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