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Police say chased girl fought to the end

By Ed Brock

Police say a teen-age girl who led police on a fatal chase kept fighting police until she was cuffed and put into a patrol car.

Clayton County police have charged 17-year-old Erica Wiggins of Babbling Brooke Drive in Jonesboro with theft by receiving, fleeing police and reckless driving in connection with the chase that occurred Monday evening. The Georgia State Patrol is charging her with vehicular homicide and DUI in connection with the wreck that occurred at the end of the chase that killed Norberto Canela, 31, of Fayetteville.

Around 5:52 p.m. Monday Clayton County Police Officer Clay Thrasher saw a Ford F-150 pickup truck stopped in oncoming lanes in the middle of the intersection of Johnson Road and Old Dixie Road , according to Thrasher's report.

"Vehicles that were turning west onto Johnson Road were having to drive around the (F-150,)" Thrasher wrote.

Thinking he was dealing with a drunk driver, Thrasher followed the truck onto Old Dixie as it headed north, straddling both lanes. Thrasher turned on his emergency lights and, when the truck failed to stop, he turned on his sirens.

The pickup accelerated and the chase began, hitting speeds of 80 mph as the F-150 wove in and out of traffic.

After crossing Forest Parkway the F-150 slowed to around 40 mph as it approached Old Dixie Highway. Then the driver ran the red light and accelerated to 80 mph again.

At that speed the truck slammed into a Dodge Neon that was trying to turn left onto South Point Drive from Old Dixie's southbound lanes. The impact spun the Neon almost completely around and killed Canela who was the front seat passenger.

The truck came to a rest on the curb, but not for long.

"Wiggins continued trying to flee from us. She tried to speed off of the curb and continue to travel on Old Dixie Road but before she could get back onto the roadway she sped the vehicle into a light pole," Thrasher wrote.

After hitting the pole, Thrasher wrote, Wiggins got out of the truck and tried to run but another officer who was riding with Thrasher tackled her. Thrasher then had to help that officer subdue Wiggins, using a knee to her forehead to knock her off balance and then struggling with her as he tried to handcuff her.

There were no indications that Wiggins had been drinking, Clayton County Police Maj. Tim Robinson said, but police do believe Wiggins was otherwise impaired. Test results are still pending.

The F-150 had been stolen from a College Park residence on Sunday.

The rear passenger in the Neon, 36-year-old Lasaro Canela, was also badly injured and taken by air ambulance to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta where he remained Tuesday, Robinson said.

Tomas Canela, 41, also of Fayetteville, was driving the Neon. He and the other passenger of the Neon's back seat, 35-year-old Rafael Martinez-Herrera of Fayetteville, were taken to Grady by ground ambulance with complaints of neck and back pain.