Crash survivors 'fortunate … to walk away'
By Shavonne Potts
When Lisa Hancock and her friends gathered at her home to enjoy an evening bonfire, they never imagined the day would end in tragedy.
Hancock, of Woodleaf, and her friends Theresa Johnson and Scott White were witnesses early Monday to a collision on Needmore Road that resulted in the death of a Coolemee woman who led police on a high-speed chase.
Just before the crash, the trio heard a siren and chalked it up to an ambulance. But one of her friends said what they were hearing was a police siren.
Hancock said she could hear a car’s engine revving. Then, Hancock saw a Coolemee police officer chasing a red Chevrolet Cavalier.
“She was leaving him,” Hancock said of the fleeing driver.
N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper C.J. Doty, who investigated the collision, said the officer estimated the driver, Elizabeth Michelle Deese, 32, to be traveling 100 mph.
“I thought the officer would never catch the driver,” Hancock said.
Hancock said she later realized the officer was pulling back from his pursuit.
When the driver crashed, Hancock thought the driver had hit a house or tree because of the powerful sound the impact made. In reality, the Cavalier had slammed head-on into a 2004 Ford Expedition.
Hancock asked the officer if there was anything she and her friends could do.
They were able to get Alexesius Blackwood, the driver of the Expedition, and her passengers out of their vehicle.
“She was limping,” Hancock said.
The male passenger had a visible knot on his forehead and the 4-year-old was in shock and shivering, Hancock said.
Hancock guided Blackwood and her passengers into Hancock’s friend’s waiting vehicle while emergency crews arrived. She told Blackwood she’d take photos of the damage to her vehicle in case she needed them.
The injured passengers were taken to Rowan Regional Medical Center, where they were treated and later released.
She said the three were “so fortunate to be able to walk away from that.”
“I expected something, but not this bad,” Hancock said.
Hancock said she did not approach Deese’s vehicle.
When she heard the emergency helicopter draw near and then turn back the way it had come, she knew the woman had died. Police said Deese died at the scene in the back of an ambulance.
Police had been advised to be on the lookout for Deese, who did not have authorization to drive the Cavalier. The vehicle belonged to John Miller of Mocksville. A Coolemee officer tried to stop Deese but she sped off, traveling U.S. 801 south into Rowan County, then turning right onto Needmore Road.
Hancock said she and her friends were probably at the accident scene for about four hours. They returned to Hancock’s home around 5 a.m.
“I was just amazed. God’s got something special for them, I guess,” she said of Blackwood and her passengers.