MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A suspect stole a Georgetown county police car and led a high speed car chase on March 30 into another state, according to North Carolina Highway Patrol Sgt. John Lewis.
At approximately 8:30 a.m., Georgetown County Sheriff's deputies were notified of mental commitment papers on an individual that walked away from Waccamaw Community Hospital, according to a release issued by the county.
WMBF News obtained 911 calls from the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office. One is from a hospital employee telling dispatch, "we just had a mental patient walk out of Waccamaw Hospital. He's wearing blue scrubs, no shoes."
The male suspect, later identified as 35-year-old Camilo Quiroga-Diaz of Surfside Beach, was seen walking down Highway 17 Bypass in the Murrells Inlet Community of Georgetown County.
Sheriff's deputies tried to take the suspect into custody when a foot chase began. Police say the suspect got into a Georgetown county police car and fled the scene. The dash cam video shows deputies approaching him.
"I saw an officer park in the median, and then another blocked 17 bypass and started running south," said Tracy Purdue who witnessed Georgetown County deputies chasing Quiroga-Diaz down the highway.
Purdue saw the suspect double back and jump into a patrol car, and said the deputies immediately tried to get him out.
"The one officer was trying to bust the window with his gun, but the guy just took off," he said.
The suspect drove the stolen Dodge Charger from Georgetown County to Tabor City, NC, while being chased by police.
During the vehicle pursuit, the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office was assisted by the South Carolina Highway Patrol, Horry County Police Department, Columbus County Sheriff's Office, Tabor City Police Department, and the North Carolina Highway Patrol.
A police report from the Horry County Police Department details the chase as the agency assisted the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office.
It shows Quiroga-Diaz drove down Highway 544 reaching speeds over 120 mph. He had the lights and sirens blaring while multiple agencies chased the stolen patrol car, all while demanding over the police radio to speak to the C.I.A.
"The first cop car came and they had to be going 120 mph, it was absolutely ridiculous," recalled Lindsey Combs. Combs witnessed the chase on her way to work and believes officers should not have pursued the vehicle at such high speeds.
"One officer almost lost control of his car and slid right into the median, throwing rocks everywhere. I had to slam on my brakes," she said, adding she was terrified.
She believes law enforcement should have found another way to stop him.
"They could have set up road blocks or something to stop him instead of chasing him to make him go faster," she said.
However, Purdue believes the deputies responded appropriately.
"They did everything in their power to catch him and stop him," he said.
Sgt. Lewis said the suspect was driving on rims when he entered the state line, due to the stop sticks that were used by law enforcement in an attempt to stop the vehicle.
The Horry County Police report states multiple stop sticks were deployed on Main Street in Conway and Highway 701. One set flattened three tires which eventually fell completely off the vehicle. But, according to the report, Quiroga-Diaz continued to drive, dropping to about 30 mph.
According to police, Quiroga-Diaz was about four miles into North Carolina, on Highway 904 west of Tabor City, when the Columbus County Sheriff's Department blocked the vehicle. This happened between 9:30-9:45 a.m.
North Carolina police took Quiroga-Diaz into custody, and was extradited to South Carolina. He was transported to the Georgetown County Detention Center where he will be housed, officials stated. Quiroga-Diaz is charged with Grand Larceny and Failure to Stop for Blue Lights. His bond is set at $13,000 but he remains behind bars.
This case is under administrative review as to the sheriff's deputy's actions before, during and after the vehicle was stolen.
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