Couple says driver left them trapped for hours inside crashed Jeep

GRANITE FALLS, N.C. — There's still more questions than answers a day after a couple was trapped in a Jeep for more than eight hours on Thursday after it ran off the road and fell more than 25 feet down an embankment, authorities said.

The Granite Falls Police Department said three people were inside the 2009 Jeep Liberty when it tumbled downhill at about 6 a.m. The driver managed to get out and said he was going for help, but never returned.

Jason Dietz, 32, and his 31-year-old girlfriend, Kristen Hardee, both from Hudson, said they have no idea what happened until 3 p.m. when they woke up inside the overturned Jeep, police said. They managed to force their way out and get help.

The driver, who the couple knew only as Shawn, is still being sought by police.

“He left us ...didn’t know what our injuries were and left us hung out to dry,” Dietz said.

Police said the couple was not seriously injured and did not have to be hospitalized. Dietz, however, was arrested on Friday in Lenoir on a parole violation.

The Jeep was pulled up later on Thursday from the embankment along Executive Park Drive off U.S. Highway 321. The vehicle was just out of eyesight of the hundreds -- if not thousands -- of vehicles that passed by during the day on Thursday, unaware of the couple's predicament just below.

Hardee said the experience was a "traumatizing" one.

“We were trapped in there freaking out yelling, trying to get out using different ways to get out," she said. "The car was crushed on its side. None of the side windows really had room to get out.”

Police are seeking witnesses to the crash. If anyone has information about this incident, call GFPD Chief Chris Jenkins at (828) 396-3358.

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