Dash cam video released in 2 county chase that ended in crash

by: Dave Faherty Updated:

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HICKORY, N.C. - Channel 9 has learned new information about a wild two-county chase that ended with a crash at a busy intersection in Hickory Tuesday.

Sheriff deputies in Alexander County released dash cam video Wednesday morning of the chase and the accident that happened along Highway 321.

The 20-mile chase ended with a crash and the driver jumping from his rental car. Video showed the driver tried to run from an Alexander County Sheriff’s deputy, but he fell to the ground.

Channel 9 spoke to the driver of the car hit in the video. Paula Westrich said her hands will still shaking the next day.

(Click to watch raw video of the chase and arrest)

“All of a sudden, I saw this car as it hit me and then I was afraid the cop was going to hit me and it scared me to death,” she said. “The cops were doing what they should have done, but I just have a problem with them going into a busy intersection.”

Jonathan Willis was charged with DWI and drug charges after deputies said they found cocaine and pills in the rented vehicle. They said they found a loaded gun on Willis.

Deputies said they started the chase after Willis was driving recklessly in Alexander County. In Hickory, an Eyewitness News crew captured video as the car raced by.

“We don’t like being involved in these type of situations, but sometimes we don’t have any other choice when folks break the law and endanger the citizens,” said Chief Deputy Todd Jones with Alexander County.

Two people hurt in that crash were treated and released at a hospital in Hickory.

“We would have pulled over if he wouldn’t have kept pushing us,” Willis told Channel 9 cameras on Tuesday. “We were scared.”

Westrich saw the Eyewitness News interview with the man accused of hitting her.

"I thought you're a real -- well I better not say that -- but you're a real dip trying to blame them.  They we're doing what they should have done,” she said.
 
Deputies said they have reviewed the chase video several times and their chase policy and they believe it was followed during this pursuit.