LEGGETT, N.C. (WNCN) — Deputies were dealt a strange hand when a man they were pulling over for speeding tried to run before wrecking his car, jumping from a bridge and attempting to ditch a stolen gun in his possession.
The driver, Willie Lamont Hardison, 34, of Tarboro, was clocked speeding at 83 miles per hour through a zone with a posted limit of 70 around 1 p.m. on Wednesday.
Deputies with the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office were conducting a speed enforcement session on US 64 bypass near the Kingsboro Road exit at the time and attempted to conduct a traffic stop to issue Hardison a written warning.
After stopped for the deputies, who were preparing to use a K-9 during the stop, Hardison was “ordered” to shut his engine off, according to the sheriff’s office.
Instead, he put his vehicle in drive and sped off, according to a release.
Deputies took off in pursuit, reaching speeds of over 100 mph.
Backing off for safety, deputies slowed down as the chase went through a construction zone. In that zone, deputies saw the driver change lanes before colliding with an unoccupied truck belonging to the construction company, the sheriff’s office said.
After impact, the driver got out and jumped off a bridge 14 feet to the ground, the sheriff’s office said.
After getting up from the fall, deputies said Hardison “ran down a path and was seen throwing a handgun into the Tar River.”
Once caught, Hardison was transported to ECU Health Edgecombe Hospital for treatment of injuries sustained in the accident and the 14-foot jump.
The Tar River Dive Team was contacted to assist with recovering the firearm that was retrieved eight feet below the surface. The serial number on the gun showed it had previously been reported stolen to the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office in December 2021.
According to Sheriff Cleveland Atkinson, Jr. the charges against Hardison are pending after his release from the hospital.