Man killed in 145 mph Wake Co. chase ID’d as Ft. Bragg paratrooper

PFC. Smith. Photo courtesy of 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

FORT BRAGG, N.C.(WNCN) – A man that died in a motorcycle crash while being pursued by authorities Saturday in Fuquay-Varina has been identified as an 82nd Airborne Division Paratrooper.

RELATED: Motorcyclist dies in Wake County crash after 145+ mph chase, officials say

Pfc. James Smith, 19, of Eatonville, Washington, was a range extension operator with Charlie Company, 307th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, according to a press release.

The chase started around 11:20 a.m. Saturday when a Wake County Deputy tried to stop a 2006 Yamaha motorcycle on North Carolina Highway 55 near Fuquay-Varina.

The deputy was trying to stop the motorcyclist for reckless driving and speeding — 80 mph in a 45 mph zone, N.C. Highway Patrol Lt. Jeff Gordon said.

“After the deputy activated his emergency equipment, the suspect began to flee onto U.S. 401 in excess of 145 mph. The deputy pursued the suspect north on U.S. 401 and right onto Legend Road near Garner,” Gordon said in a press release.

While approaching Old Stage Road and in excess of 100 mph, the suspect crossed left of center, overturned, and hit a 2008 Chevrolet Silverado that was already stopped at the intersection of Legend Road and Old Stage Road, according to Gordon.

Smith was ejected and “came to rest underneath the pickup truck” at the scene, which is just west of Garner, Gordon said.

No injuries were reported to the occupants of the Chevrolet Silverado. Smith was pronounced deceased on scene by Wake County EMS.

“Pfc. Smith was a fine Paratrooper whose service and friendship will be sorely missed,” said Lt. Col. Patrick Sullivan, commander of 307th BEB. “Although his life and Army career are no more, I know his teammates in this battalion and throughout the airborne community will keep Pfc. Smith’s spirit alive. He is forever in our hearts, and our most sincere condolences go out to his family and friends during this time of grief.”

Smith joined the Army in June 2014. He completed Advanced Individual Training at Fort Gordon, Georgia. He reported to the 82nd Airborne Division and was assigned to 3rd BCT in September, the release said.

Smith’s awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon and the Parachutist Badge.

Smith is survived by his mother, father, and stepmother.

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