NC woman car passenger dies after driver crashes during police chase

The crashed gray Nissan Altima. Photo from WBTV.

GASTONIA, N.C. (WBTV) — One person died in a Gaston County crash Saturday evening following a police chase.

Two vehicles were involved in the wreck on Franklin Boulevard and New Hope Road in Gastonia.

Thomas Kirkland in a photo from WBTV
Thomas Kirkland in a photo from WBTV

The chase started after police were called to the nearby Target for a reported “larceny in progress.” Police said the people involved left the store in a gray Nissan Altima.

Officers said they tried to stop the car leaving the Target parking lot, but the driver drove onto East Franklin Boulevard going westbound in the eastbound lanes.

The driver, later identified as Thomas Kirkland, dodged traffic to pass stopped vehicles at the New Hope Road intersection before hitting a car head-on, according to reports.

Police said the passenger in Kirkland’s vehicle, Deborah Patterson of Bessemer City, was taken to Caromont Regional Medical Center and later died from her injuries.

Kirkland, age 38, and the two people in the car he’s accused of hitting were taken to the hospital with serious injuries, according to Gastonia police.

Kirkland has been charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle, felony flee to elude arrest, careless and reckless driving, felony larceny and other traffic related charges. Police said he was also driving with a revoked license.

Kirkland is being held on $750,000 bond, according to the Gaston County Jail website.

The crash is still under investigation, if you have any additional information about this incident, you are asked to call the Gastonia Police Department at 704-866-6702.

Copyright 2016 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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