Woman Charged after High Speed Chase

JUNE 8, 2005 --The chase ended with a fireball inside the Faith Baptist Church on Shipyard Boulevard. The Wilmington driver, 25-year-old Tiffany Pridgen, was rescued from the blaze by two detectives. Lt. Russ Fales explains, "The Vice Unit reached in and extracted her through the window, thereby saving her life." Det. L.C. Robinson and Det. M.C. Sorg will be awarded a life saving ribbon by Sheriff Sid Causey.

Earlier Tuesday night, New Hanover County drug agents tried to pull over Pridgen at the intersection of Eastwood Road and Cardinal Drive. They believed she had drugs inside her vehicle. When she didn't stop, the chase began.

Deputies say she then turned on Kerr Avenue and headed down Market Street. Pridgen was traveling around 100 miles an hour. She took 17th Street and went around to 16th Street finally making a right on Shipyard Boulevard. It was on that road where she clipped a utility pole and crashed into the church.

The accident knocked out power for hundreds of residents for more than two hours. Deputies justify the chase by the nature of the crime. Fales says, "Because it was over drugs and felony crime the chase was on... We are lucky nobody got hurt."

A witness, Darwin Brown, followed the chase nearly from the beginning to end. "They were swerving, running lights, people blowing their horns."

Pridgen now faces a long list of charges for leading deputies on this chase. She's also charged with DWI and possession of cocaine. Pridgen was released from the hospital Wednesday night and immediately taken to jail.  She is being held on a $150,000 bond.

Reported By Maggie Alexander