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Man dies in accident while fleeing in stolen car

Georgia State Patrol Trooper First Class Mike Callaway pulled alongside the stolen, speeding Acura and looked at the driver.

What he saw changed his plans to end the high-speed chase along Interstate 20.

"I thought about my options, but I thought about safety first - his and mine," Trooper Callaway told The McDuffie Mirror. "I thought about performing the pit maneuver, but I could see when I got beside the driver that he wasn't wearing a seatbelt."

Seconds later, the chase did end. In an explosion of metal, the green coupe slammed into a cement bridge pillar at the Norwood exit last Friday morning. The driver - 65-year-old Robert G. Lundy of Lexington, S.C. - was killed instantly, said Georgia State Patrol Sgt. Perry Hobbs of the Thomson post.

Personnel with the Warren County Fire/Rescue Services used extrication tools to free the man from the twisted wreckage of the 1998 Acura CL, according to Chief Tommy Wolfe.

The fatal wreck, which occurred shortly before 9:30 a.m., marked the end of a six-mile chase along the westbound lanes of I-20 that reached speeds of 130 mph.

It started with the report of a stolen car from the Stokes-Hodges lot on Washington Road in Thomson. An employee of the dealership called police and said he had spotted the stolen car.

"It's my understanding that the employee spotted the stolen car around Wal-Mart and attempted to stop the driver," Assistant Chief Jerry Stanphill of the Thomson Police Department said. "When he did, the driver of the stolen car tried to hit him."

Assistant Chief Stanphill later spotted the stolen car, which had sustained damages from an earlier mishap, traveling northbound along Washington Road. He said he followed the car from a safe distance, since he was driving an unmarked patrol car.

Once the driver of the stolen car got onto I-20, Assistant Chief Stanphill notified state troopers, who were also joined by agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

The car sped along I-20, reaching speeds in excess of 100 mph before it came to the crashing halt.

"I actually thought the driver was going to turn off, but instead, he kept going," Trooper Callaway said. "He made a move like he was going to turn. He then sped up again to about 130 mph before slamming head-on into the bridge pillar."

Web posted on Thursday, August 16, 2007

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