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Another police pursuit results in the deaths of innocent bystanders, including 5 year old

(WPMI) Another police pursuit results in the deaths of innocent bystanders
(WPMI){ }Another police pursuit results in the deaths of innocent bystanders

UPDATE 6/25/20 5:00 p.m.: ALEA says the 5-year-old child riding with Brunson died Thursday at the hospital from injuries caused by the accident.


Friday night, state troopers say Thomasville Police were chasing a man on Highway 43 when he crossed the median and crashed head-on into Megan Brunson.

Brunson and her mother Wanda Brunson died. Brunson's younger sister and Brunson's little girl were critically injured.

Questions about the chase remain unanswered. Thomasville's police chief and ALEA, who is overseeing the investigation, wouldn't tell NBC 15 News why Thomasville Police were going after 36-year-old Christopher Pritchett, who also died in the crash, or what the agency's pursuit policy is.

It was a pursuit that ultimately claimed the life of a 23-year-old mother, who was just getting her teaching career started.

"She had such a huge impact on not just her 7th grade team, but on everyone because she was very friendly. We ask for the continued thoughts and prayers for her family and for our Thomasville High School family because it's -- there are a lot of folks that are really struggling and, of course, it's always hard to understand. And this has been such a tragic loss," said Thomasville High School Principal Kyle Ferguson.

The incident highlights the inherent danger of police pursuits.

Spanish Fort Police Chief John Barber, whose officers were not involved in the deadly pursuit, explained what goes into one. He says the location, time of day and weather conditions are all taken into account. On top of that, he says there's a supervisor monitoring the chase.

"You need that extra layer of supervision beyond the officer that's taking in consideration all the different factors that are involved and should that pursuit continue," said Barber.

Some cities have banned or restricted chases, like only chasing dangerous felons. Barber says in his department, and for the many years he worked in Mobile, there's always a central question for every pursuit.

"Is the apprehension necessary to outweigh the risk of danger to the public?" asked Barber.

The group FairWarning analyzed federal data and found thousands of innocent bystanders have been killed during police pursuits and that the number of deaths has been on the rise for decades. The deadliest year was 2007 with 424 deaths.

Data NBC 15 News obtained shows pursuits in Mobile are common. Typically more than 100 happen every year. Public Safety Director James Barber, whose brother is Spanish Fort's Police Chief, explained last year another thing police take into account is the seriousness of the charge.

"Is it a minor traffic citation or a robbery suspect or murder suspect? Carjacking situation?" said James Barber.