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Police: Woman dies while trying to elude Hickory officers

A Morganton woman died late Wednesday when her car crashed as she was trying to elude police in Catawba County, authorities say.

Hickory police identified the woman as 39-year-old Crystal Annette Jones Port.

Police said officers saw a driver pull out from a stop sign in front of another vehicle shortly after 11 p.m. on U.S. 70 at 4th Street Drive SW in Hickory. Officers said the taillights on the driver’s car were not working, so they attempted to stop the vehicle.

The woman stopped her car, and Hickory police said an officer suspected the driver might be under the influence. According to police, the officer asked the woman to turn off her engine and step out of the car.

Instead, police said, the woman drove off, headed westbound on U.S. 70 at what investigators said was “a high rate of speed.” Hickory police pursued the vehicle, authorities said.

As the vehicle entered the town of Long View, police said, it went into a highway construction site near 33rd Street SW. Investigators said the site was marked with cones, barrels and message boards, and traffic was reduced from five to two lanes with heavy equipment parked nearby.

Police said the fleeing vehicle knocked down several barrels and then slammed into a construction crane. The driver, later identified as Port, died at the scene.

Investigators say no workers were in the area, as construction had ended for the day.

Long View and Hickory police are conducting the investigation, according to authorities.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle
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