Driver safety questioned during chases

March 23, 2011 3:48:22 PM PDT
A chase that started on Capital Boulevard during the evening traffic rush Tuesday ended with a crash.

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison says the driver of the car being pursued was weaving in and out of traffic, even heading the wrong direction.

The ABC11 I-Team asked Sheriff Harrison about the other drivers on the road at the time.

"We do look at the motoring public to make sure decisions are being made correctly," Harrison said. "Our supervisors have the right to call the chase off. So does the deputy that's doing the chase."

But Tuesday's chase was never called off despite starting on a congested Capital Boulevard and ending at the intersection of two busy interstates during the evening rush. At one point, speeds reached 100 mph.

"Some people say well you're taking chances by doing this," Harrison said. "Well, maybe so but on the other hand, if this person has committed a crime then we need to have them stopped."

Harrison says one problem is officers often times don't know what the person has done or why he or she is not stopping for police.

The man arrested after Tuesday's chase, Savvas Avramidis of Apex, told a judge he was "just being stupid." Avramidis would not talk on camera.

Earlier this month, Wake deputies were following a speeding motorcyclist for several miles late at night when he crashed and died.

The accident report shows the driver was going 130 mph when he clipped a BMW and was thrown into the median of Highway 64. That sparked debate in the local newspaper.

One man wrote in part, "It is terrible that we continue to allow high-speed chases that frequently result in death. We also endanger other citizens during these chases."

"At least the LEO's have had some sort of training to drive at that speed," one responder wrote.

Sheriff Harrison says he feels for the family and the deputy, who has to live it with too. "There again, we do have a job to do and if we don't do our job, then the public's on my case. So we can't really win in these types of situations, there's no winning. We don't do it for winning. Stop and think, any time our deputies are in a chase, they're risking their lives. They have families at home too."

Harrison says his officers did the right thing in both cases.

ABC11 checked with Raleigh police and the Highway Patrol about department policies. All vary a little bit but most are done on a case by case basis.

The man who led Tuesday's chase has been arrested for the same thing before and he still has a license. Apparently, he didn't stop for police less than three weeks ago. Avramidis goes to court on April 1 for a pending DWI charge. So far, his license has not been revoked.

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