High speed chase ends in deadly wreck in Gastonia

- The Gastonia Police Department Traffic Enforcement Bureau is investigating after a man accused of trying to rob a Target caused a deadly wreck along East Franklin Boulevard in Gastonia on Saturday.

Police have charged 38-year-old Thomas Kirkland with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, felony flee to elude arrest, careless and reckless driving, fail to stop for a stop light, left of center, speeding, driving while license revoked while revoked for impaired driving and felony larceny for hitting another vehicle head-on along East Franklin Boulevard, killing one person and injuring several others.

Around 5 p.m., Gastonia police responded to a reported larceny at a Gastonia Target where they learned Kirkland and other suspects left the store in a grey Nissan Altima. Officers attempted to stop the vehicle as it was leaving the store parking lot, but they weren't successful. 

The driver of the Nissan, Kirkland, accelerated onto East Franklin Boulevard heading westbound in the eastbound lanes. He crossed back over into the westbound lanes, approaching the New Hope Road intersection. He crossed back into the eastbound lanes to pass stopped vehicles at the New Hope Road intersection before hitting head-on with 64-year-old Donald Curtis driving a 2014 Dodge Avenger that was waiting in the left turn lane on East Franklin Boulevard.

The passenger of Kirkland’s car Deborah Patterson, 62, of Bessemer City, N.C. was transported to Caromont Regional Medical Center and died from her injuries.  Kirkland, Curtis and his passenger, Patricia Curtis were also transported to Caromont Regional Medical Center with serious but non-life threatening injuries.

Anyone who may have seen the incident or have any additional information can contact Officer Z. Lechette with the Gastonia Police Department Traffic Enforcement Bureau at 704-866-6702.

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