Durham police investigating whether chase occurred in fatal crash

08/05/2014 6:43 PM

08/05/2014 6:44 PM

DURHAM Durham police are looking into whether an officer followed department policy in pursuing a suspected drug trafficker who hit an oncoming car, killing himself and the other driver.

“The department is investigating to determine if a chase occurred and to see if our policies and procedures were followed,” police spokeswoman Kammie Michael said in an email Tuesday evening.

Earlier in the day police released more details about the incident, which began about 6 p.m. Friday when the Drug Enforcement Administration asked police to help stop the suspected trafficker.

Although the Highway Patrol and Police Department both initially said they did not chase the suspect, police said Tuesday that the police officer pursuing the suspect reached a top speed of up to 68 mph. The suspect was speeding at over 100 mph in the 45 mph zone, police said.

According to Tuesday’s more detailed press release, here is what police say happened:

Based on a review of the officer’s in-car camera video, the officer turned his patrol car behind the suspect’s 1995 Chevy Impala from N.C. 98 onto Patterson Road and turned on his overhead lights.

The suspect pulled over but quickly pulled back onto the roadway. The Durham officer followed and let surrounding units know the suspect was fleeing.

“The officer continued to follow the suspect vehicle with his patrol car’s blue lights and siren on, but he lost sight of the suspect vehicle approximately 40 seconds into the event,” the release said. “The officer did not see the suspect vehicle again until he came upon the crash approximately one minute after the initial stop.”

Angel Luis Santana, 54, who had drug convictions dating back to 2010, was driving the Impala when it crossed the center line and crashed head-on into another car. Santana and the driver of the other car, Tamara Lou White, 55, of Raleigh, both died.

Santana was to have appeared in court Friday in Durham County on tickets for driving with a revoked license and driving a car with an expired license tag. And he was to appear in Guilford County court on Sept. 9 on tickets for speeding and driving with a revoked license.

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