A chase that started in Caldwell County rolled to a fiery stop in downtown Morganton on Wednesday.
The Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office told the Morganton Department of Public Safety they were headed into city limits in pursuit of a stolen vehicle that already had hit a set of stop sticks in Lenoir and was running on two tires and two rims, according to a press release from MDPS.
MDPS Officer Mike Gates got into position on Lenoir Road (N.C. 18/U.S. 64) at Shadowline Drive and deployed another set of stop sticks there, the release said.
But even that wasn’t enough to get the vehicle stopped immediately, MDPS said in the release. It continued on, with resident Slim Williams getting a front row seat to the commotion as it came rolling into Morganton.
“At the light down there where 18 goes to Lenoir and the other road (Rockyford Street) goes to Vinearden, I was coming up Vinearden and I heard the sirens,” Williams said.
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He didn’t see anything coming, so he pulled out into the road and made it down the street to the gas station.
“No sooner than I parked, I seen him,” Williams said. “He was weaving and the car was just swaying.”
Williams said he didn’t think he would make it through the sharp curve at the corner of Lenoir Street and Rockyford Street, but the man did – even with the car on fire.
“I said, ‘damn, he’s on fire,’” Williams said. “We looked and he’s fishtailing and he hit that curve.”
Williams said he saw fire coming from the back of the car where the rims were hitting the pavement, but eventually, the engine compartment of the Toyota Corolla gave out and a fire started there, leading the man to stop the car in the intersection of Avery Avenue and North Green Street, the MDPS release said.
The man, who has been identified as Joshua E. McClure, 38, of Hudson, jumped out of the vehicle and ran from the scene, but he was taken into custody on the sidewalk, the release said.
An ambulance was called to the scene to treat McClure, who ended up getting transported to UNC Health, the MDPS release said. Specific charges haven’t been released yet, but he’ll be facing charges from both Caldwell County and MDPS.
He already has previous convictions of possession of a schedule II controlled substance and attempted speeding to elude arrest, both felonies, according to a records check on the North Carolina Department of Public Safety website.