Family Friends in Shock of Fatal Police Pursuit - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

12/21/03

Family Friends in Shock of Fatal Police Pursuit

Law officials in Perry County are still baffled at a high speed chase that left four people dead. When Beaumont police tried to pull over a car early Saturday morning, the driver and three passengers ran from the cops. The driver, Charles McDonald, had his wife, Joanne, and step-child in the car, along with his friend, Louie Melton.

Family and friends of the McDonalds still can't figure it out.

"That's what kind of leaves us wondering, because of the questions--we don't know why," said Rick Media.

Family friend Rick Media talked to the McDonalds just before the chase.

"We were planning a Christmas party for Saturday. And they were coming over. I had talked to Joanne on her cell phone and told her to bring a bag of charcoal," said Media.

It all started when the police tried to pull the McDonald's over.

"The police officer turned on his lights because he couldn't see the license plate. They live out here on these dirt roads and the dirt gets up on there...said he couldn't see the license plate," said Media.

Shortly after the police put on their lights, the driver of the car tried to get away.

"There was a three mile stretch that's just nothing but straight away down eight-mile road... said he had reached speeds of up to 100 miles an hour," said Media.

During the high speed chase, the driver lost control of the car coming around this corner. That's when the car hit this tree--and that's when the life-threatening situation took a turn for the worse.

"I'd heard on the scanner he was screaming for help. Anybody bring me a fire extinguisher that they have crashed and the car is on fire. It was engulfed in flames," said Barbara Waldrop, the Perry County Deputy Coroner.

While only charred remains are left where the car was, the family and friends are trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together and figure out the motive.

"That's why it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to us--why there was a police chase or any of that. He had his 10-year-old girl in the car, and there was nothing that he would ever do to risk her... ever," said Media.

For now, autopsies are being done on the four bodies, and police are investigating what's left of the car to try and help the McDonald family and friends put an end to why the chase started.

The Perry County Coroner Jimmy Runnells says they had to use the jaws of life to get the victims out of the car.

The autopsy report should be finished by next week.

Claire Nelson

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