A Snellville man who escaped from a “probation detention center work detail” in Gwinnett crashed a car he was driving — resulting in the death of a Mercer University student — after a chase in Monroe and Bibb counties over the weekend.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that Erick Guillermo Tapia-Algeria, 25, was arrested and booked into that county’s jail following the chase and crash, which happened Saturday night.
Officials said Tapia-Algeria did not stop for deputies who tried to pull over the Dodge Charger he was driving, just south of the city of Forsyth on Interstate 75, for speeding at about 8:45 p.m. The chase eventually moved over to Interstate 475, at one point exiting the interstate and then getting back on it in the Macon area.
“The vehicle then exited at Eisenhower Parkway turned left and traveled towards Bloomfield Road,” Monroe county Sheriff’s Office Public Information Coordinator Anna Lewis said. “At Madison Apartments, the driver of the vehicle lost control and rolled several times, hitting two vehicles and a building.”
Gwinnett County officials said Tapia-Algeria had been allowed out of a work-release program in August so he could receive medical attention, but never returned. Gwinnett officials have had a warrant out for his arrest since then.
Lewis said Tapia-Algeria is wanted in multiple counties on multiple warrants.
Because of the accident, Tapia-Algeria now also faces charges of fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer for a felony offense, reckless driving, misdemeanor driving while license suspended or revoked, speeding in excess of maximum limits, failure to obey traffic control device and possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, according to Monroe County jail records.
The Macon Telegraph reported that law enforcement began pursuing the vehicle when it was observed going 112 mph on the interstate and speeds got as high as 140 mph during the chase.
The Mercer student, identified as Stone Mountain resident Sapphire Thomas, 21, was a passenger in the car driven by Tapia-Algeria, according to Lewis. The Telegraph said the vehicle had been loaned to Thomas.
Lewis said Thomas was unconscious at the scene and was taken to a hospital where she died later Saturday night.
It is not clear how Thomas and Tapia-Algeria knew each other.