Police: Raleigh man's car flips across Glenwood Avenue with stolen luggage

akenney@newsobserver.comDecember 10, 2013 

— Raleigh-Durham International Airport police say they were chasing a Raleigh man with a bag stolen from a luggage carousel when he flipped across Glenwood Avenue on Tuesday afternoon.

The man had reportedly taken an arriving Southwest Airlines passenger’s bag from Terminal One just before 2 p.m., according to airport spokesman Andrew Sawyer.

The passenger confronted the man, who then fled the terminal. RDU police officers searched the parking deck and spotted the man as he paid his way out, Sawyer said.

RDU has not released the man’s name, but a Raleigh police accident report identifies him as Christian Marquez Lewis, 24, of 5809 Parkchester Road.

Airport police pulled the man over on John Brantley Boulevard as he left the airport, Sawyer said. But the man fled at high speed when an officer asked to search his car, Sawyer said.

Lewis’ Ford passenger car was traveling at 75 mph when he attempted to exit Interstate 540 onto Glenwood Avenue, just outside the airport, according to Raleigh police.

Lewis lost control and slid off the exit ramp and across two lanes of Glenwood before hitting a concrete median and flipping into the avenue’s central pair of lanes, according to the accident report. Raleigh police say speed and reckless driving contributed to the crash.

“He definitely was airborne for a minute once he hit that rail,” said Daniel Goodwin, who was eastbound on Glenwood Avenue when the Ford somersaulted into the lanes about 75 feet ahead of him. “The concrete median wasn't even fazed.”

The car was still moving at 65 mph when it hit the median, according to the report. Goodwin estimated that one end of the car somersaulted about 10 feet in the air before landing upside down.

“When it flipped over and landed, it almost pancaked the car,” said Goodwin, a 26-year-old mechanic. “I assumed when it first happened – ‘Oh my gosh, whoever's in there's dead.”

In fact, Lewis, who was wearing a seat belt, according to the accident report, was transported with apparent minor injuries to Duke Hospital in Durham.

The Ford, listed as the property of a Raleigh woman, sustained an estimated $15,000 of damage. Police shut down eastbound lanes of Glenwood Avenue for about two hours following the crash.

Lewis already faces a charge of driving while license revoked and felony fleeing to elude. RDU police are continuing their investigation and may press further charges. A description of the reportedly stolen bag’s contents wasn’t available, nor was the owner’s name.

The airport authority suspects that the man involved in Tuesday’s chase may be connected with several recent bag thefts, Sawyer said.

Kenney: 919-829-4870; Twitter: @KenneyNC

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