YORK COUNTY, S.C. — Three separate departments are investigating after authorities said two people were killed and another was injured after a dangerous high-speed chase along Interstate 77 ended in a fiery crash in York County.
Chopper 9 Skyzoom was overhead Thursday afternoon as a stolen red Toyota Prius swerved in and out of traffic, putting lives in danger before losing control, hitting a tree and bursting into flames.
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Officials said two people in the car died and another was taken to the hospital.
Investigators said the suspects made some bad decisions that ultimately led to the pursuit with troopers.
According to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, the Prius was stolen sometime after April 6 from an apartment complex off Willow Park Drive in east Charlotte.
On April 10, police said a woman was beaten and robbed off Park Road and that the stolen Prius may have been used in that crime.
On Thursday, CMPD spotted the vehicle and tried to pull it over, but the driver sped off. Officers did not chase the car but followed it from the air with the CMPD helicopter.
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The Prius primarily traveled on I-77 but got off at several exits, including Nations Ford, Woodlawn and Tyvola roads.
“Officers deactivated their emergency equipment and did not pursue the vehicle,” CMPD said in a news release. “The aviation unit followed the vehicle into South Carolina, where (state Highway Patrol) responded.”
Troopers spotted the Prius on I-77 when it crossed into South Carolina and tried to pull it over but, again, the driver would not stop.
Chopper 9 captured the dangerous moments as the car swerved in and out of traffic on I-77 just after 4:15 p.m. At one point, troopers tried to box the car in against a guardrail, but the driver managed to get away.
Troopers said the driver intentionally struck one the patrol cars.
Troopers used a PIT (Pursuit Intervention Technique) maneuver to get the Prius to stop, spinning it 180 degrees, but the suspects drove through the woods to get away and got back on the road.
A short time later, the driver lost control, and the car ran off the right side of the interstate and slammed into a tree near the Porter Road exit.
A fire started, and first responders rushed to try to put it out, pulling at least two people from the wreckage.
Police said Ka'Montie Gross and Aniyah Taylor died at the scene.
Witnesses who saw the crash were stunned.
“My mom or people I know could have been coming down this road and been involved in that,” said Scott Mackey. “They have no regard for anybody’s life, including their own and that’s a shame. I mean, it really is.”
The southbound lanes of I-77 were closed for hours after the crash.
Authorities have not released the condition of the person who survived the crash or said whether that person will face any charges.
The family said the one survivor from the crash is still recovering in the hospital.
No troopers or deputies were injured in the crash, the York County Sheriff's Office said.
CMPD is conducting the robbery investigation, while Rock Hill police and the York County Sheriff’s Office conduct the crash investigation.
Channel 9's Tina Terry spoke with the mother of the man behind the wheel, who said she waited for hours at the hospital before learning that her oldest child had died in the crash.
"It's so hard to lose a child. It's so hard, it's so hard," Chaquia Gross said.
The crash killed her son Ka'Montie Gross, who was behind the wheel, an unnamed passenger, and seriously injured a second passenger.
Chaquia said she has no idea where her son was going or why any of this happened, but she said her friend messaged her about the crash shortly after it happened.
"I was like 'Is he OK?' They said 'Hes gone' and I'm like 'What,'" Chaquia said. "She said 'I can't, I can't let you see him, if you did you wouldn't recognize him."
Chaquia said her son had a big heart that cared for others, but he never extended that same care to himself.
"He'd tell you don't walk across the street cause a car coming, he'd walk," Chaquia said. "If you were down, he would pick you right back up. We might clash, but I love him to death. I'm gonna miss him."
Check back with wsoctv.com for updates on this story.
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