The woman who fled deputies on Interstate 85 earlier this week before her vehicle crashed, ejecting her 7-year-old daughter, has a history of running from officers at high speeds, according to Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright.
Wright said that on Sept. 14, 2011, 26-year-old Errika Shelton fled from troopers and deputies along I-85 in northeast Georgia in 2011 before being caught with more than a kilogram of cocaine in her rental car. He said Shelton hit several cars that were chasing her before she stopped after running out of gas.
The sheriff said Shelton was also driving a rental car when she flipped the SUV on I-85 on Monday morning, throwing Queniya Shelton from the car. Queniya Shelton was taken to a local hospital, where she later died.
"This girl was not going to slow down," Wright said, commenting on the two chases. "This girl was not going to do the right thing. This lady has a history of running from law enforcement and putting all involved in harms way."
His office released the dashcam video that showed the deputy stayed far behind the vehicle and that he followed protocol.
"We chased this car because she was violating the law," Wright said. "Our officers did absolutely nothing wrong and did not cause this wreck."
On Wednesday, Shelton's family criticized the sheriff's office decision to chase the vehicle while a child was inside.
"They say my grandbaby was throwing stuff out (of) the car," said Trena Rice, Erika Shelton's mother. "If they can say that, (then) they knew she was in the car."
Wright expressed his condolences to the Shelton family during Friday's news conference.
"You have to understand, even though she made a horrible choice, she lost a baby and our heart goes out to her as well," said Wright.
The family chose to have Queniya Shelton's organs donated, according to Wright, which could save seven other lives across the country.
Erika Shelton was charged with failure to stop for a blue light involving death, unlawful neglect of a child, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, driving under suspension, reckless driving and being a habitual traffic offender. Wright said she could face more charges. She was booked into the Spartanburg County jail Friday afternoon.
Chase part of larger sheriff's office operation
Monday's chase and crash was a "tragic start" to Operation Rolling Thunder, which ended Friday.
The operation is an annual event where law enforcement officers from across the state volunteer their time to help the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office with traffic enforcement.
More than 200 officers patrolled county roads and highways making 24 arrests, getting 50 pounds of marijuana, several guns and more than $24,700 in cash off the streets.
Wright said it was a very successful operation and thanked those involved for their time and hard work.
Funeral arrangements for Queniya Shelton announced
Visitation for Queniya Shelton will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday at J.W. Woodward Funeral Home in Spartanburg. Her funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at Mount Moriah Baptist Church on South Church Street in Spartanburg.
Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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