Police were searching for suspects in a robbery of a Check n’ Go on U.S. 431 in Saks Monday afternoon after they fled the scene in a Ford Explorer before crashing into a ditch at the intersection of the highway and Beverly Road, said Anniston police Lt. Fred Forsythe. Police said they arrested a “person of interest” in connection with the robbery, but Forsythe said he could not say if the man might have been involved directly with the crime. The man was arrested for contempt of court in an unrelated matter, Forsythe said.
The vehicle possibly ended up in embankment with help from Danielle Hendershot, a shift manager at Marco’s Pizza next door to the Check n’ Go. Hendershot said she walked by the store while the robbery was in progress and saw two men wearing masks and carrying guns flee to a black Ford Explorer and drive away. Hendershot said after telling a co-worker to call 911, she got into her 1998 Cadillac Catera and chased after the vehicle north on U.S. 431.
“Instinct just took over,” she said. “I knew I needed to help out, and I had nothing to write down their tags with, so I just followed them.”
Hendershot said she was traveling more than 90 mph on the four-lane highway in pursuit of the vehicle, when the Explorer suddenly took a sharp left turn on Beverly Road, flipped three times and came to rest at the bottom of an embankment. Hendershot said two men climbed out of the Explorer and ran off down Beverly Road.
“They were big, hulking guys, and I just weigh 110 pounds,” she said. “I’m sure they weren’t too happy with themselves.”
Forsythe said he heard a resident had possibly chased the vehicle, leading to the crash, but could not confirm the details.
“We would rather the citizens not put themselves in a position of danger,” Forsythe said. “But sometimes you do not have a choice depending on the situation. I would never encourage someone to chase an armed robber.”
Hendershot said police arrived at the scene around five minutes after the crash and took her name and information along with the names of residents in nearby houses who witnessed the wreck. After talking to the police she returned to work.
“My boss wasn’t too happy with me, but if I didn’t help out, no one else would,” she said. “It was just my way of saying ‘y’all aren’t going to get away with this.’”
Several Anniston police cruisers, a Calhoun County Sheriff’s K9 vehicle and Alabama State Troopers’ vehicles swarmed the intersection in Alexandria shortly after 3 p.m. Crime lab investigators removed several bags of evidence from the Explorer before it was towed away.
A resident at the scene who asked not to be named said an officer told him the suspects fled from the car and had not been caught.
Officers at the Check n’ Go and the site of the wreck declined to comment on the investigation.
The Check n’ Go store in Saks had closed when a reporter went to find out more information.
Forsythe said interviews with witnesses and cooperation with residents has eased the Police Department’s investigation, as they searched the area near the wreck Monday afternoon.
“I would say we appreciate help,” Forsythe said. “And we got a lot of help today.”
Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.