Police Chief Scott Cunningham says Willingham was trapped inside his car after it went off the road and down an embankment. He says police are investigating what happened. Willingham was driving to help a fellow officer who was following a possible drunken driver.
Cunningham says the officer radioed for help but when emergency responders arrived, the car was engulfed in flames. Willingham died at the scene.
Flags have been lowered to half-staff at the police station.
Willingham joined the police department in August 2009. Before that, he worked in the Greensboro police department for two years.