ROSEBORO, N.C. (WNCN) — A man and woman from Fayetteville were killed in a fiery, high-speed crash while fleeing Sampson County deputies over the weekend, according to authorities.
The incident began just after 6 p.m. Saturday when a deputy saw a car traveling at a high rate of speed along N.C. 24, said Sampson County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Eric Pope.
Deputies tried to perform a traffic stop on the Dodge Challenger but the driver of the car sped away about two miles northwest of Roseboro.
The sheriff’s office said that deputies attempted to catch up to the vehicle but, as they were terminating the pursuit, saw an explosion and drove up on a crash involving the Challenger they had tried stopping.
Authorities said the Challenger was traveling at more than 100 mph when the driver lost control near Boren Brick Road, which is about 10 miles east of Fayetteville.
According to the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, which is investigating the crash, the Challenger came into a left curve while speeding and went off the road to the right. The car then hit “a driveway culvert with a small brick wall and became airborne.”
The Challenger slammed into a tree, flipped over on its roof and caught fire, landing on private property in the area, the sheriff’s office said.
Highway patrol officials said the driver, identified as 34-year-old Ryan Andrew Squires, was ejected from the vehicle and killed. He was not wearing a seat belt.
The passenger, 24-year-old Leona Marie Heyward, was also pronounced dead at the scene. Troopers said she was wearing a seat belt.
The sheriff’s office said deputies tried to extinguish the flames and pull Heyward out of the vehicle but they were unable to do so. Sampson County EMS and the Salemburg Fire Department responded to the scene and conducted “an extensive extrication effort” in order to get the deceased woman out of the car.
Inside the vehicle, authorities found a stolen pistol, AR-15 rifle and what is believed to be marijuana.
Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thornton said this incident is a warning to others to not try fleeing from law enforcement officers.
“This crash is an example of the dangers involved in trying to elude law enforcement. A poor decision on the part of the driver led to the destruction of two lives and impacted the lives of their loved ones,” he said. “My heart goes out to their families.”