Injured trooper saves suspect from burning vehicle after high-speed chase ends in crash

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WALKERTOWN, N.C. -- A North Carolina State Highway Patrol trooper saved a high-speed chase suspect from a burning vehicle after the chase ended in a collision.

Officials say the chase began in Stokes County at about 7:40 a.m. when the driver failed to pull over for an expired registration violation, and led to the crash, which occurred at 7:45 a.m. in Forsyth County.

“I heard it one time, like one big boom,” said Ves Rucker, who lives nearby.

Troopers say the driver being chased, Demareo Rivers, came onto Pine Hall Road in Walkertown before attempting to make a U-turn. The driver then crossed left of center and hit an SUV head-on. Troopers say the chase reached speeds of about 100 mph.

The ensuing chain reaction caused the trooper who was doing the chasing -- Trooper N.R. White -- to crash, splitting his forehead.

“A pursuit itself is very dangerous, and it’s a very high, intense situation,” said North Carolina State Highway Patrol Sgt. Eric Naylor.

As a result of the collision, Rivers' car caught on fire and Trooper White rescued him from the vehicle.

“Vehicle on fire, he gets out bleeding and goes and takes the violator out of his vehicle, I’d call him a hero,” said Naylor, of the trooper.

Rivers and the driver of the Hyundai SUV were transported to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. Trooper White was also taken the hospital where he was given stitches. Troopers on scene say the driver of the Dodge pick-up drove himself to the hospital.

“We could have had, probably some fatalities out here, but luckily no one was seriously injured,” Naylor added.

Police say another crash occurred at the intersection of U.S. 158 and N.C. 66 shortly after the high-speed chase. A trooper who was responding to the chase was hit after he stopped at the intersection, resulting in a third vehicle being damaged. Both civilians and the trooper were unharmed.

The two incidents involved a total of seven cars, four at the Pine Hall Road scene and three on U.S. 158.

Charges are pending at this time as investigators continue their investigation.