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Couple charged after chase in power company truck stolen from Irene clean-up


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The clean-up from Hurricane Irene in Pender County was slowed yesterday after a couple allegedly stole a Four County EMC truck and started a chase that ended two counties away.

Highway Patrol 1st Sgt. Will Thurston says it started when the truck was stolen in Maple Hill in Pender County. Cindy Horrell, Four County's Vice President for Human Resources, says a worker had climbed a pole to repair a security light damaged in the storm, when he looked down to see the 2006 Chevy Colorado pick-up being stolen. He called it in, and the company alerted law enforcement.

Horrell says a short time later, an other Four County worker in Duplin County spotted the truck and called it in. A trooper tried to pull it over in Beaulaville in Duplin County, but the driver would not stop. The chase continued north on Highway 241 into Lenoir County. Thurston says the female passenger, later identified as Amber Hansen, jumped out of the truck as it was moving. Then Thurston says the driver, Merritt Lamont Lee, jumped out and ran.

Thurston says the truck hit an apartment complex as Lee ran into a nearby home, sending the folks inside running scared. Thurston says eventually the Lenoir County Sheriff's Special Response Team responded and fired tear gas into the house. Lee then surrendered.

Lee is charged with a host of crimes in all three counties, including stealing the truck, fleeing to evade, resisting arrest, aggressive driving, hit and run, driving while license revoked and cocaine possession. He's in the Duplin County Jail under $40,000.

Thurston says Lenoir County took custody of Hansen and took her to the hospital in Kinston to be treated for her injuries. No word on her condition.

Four County EMC says the truck suffered only minor body damage. The company recovered all the equipment that was in it.

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Maple Hill

Maple Hill is a bad area, I hate driving through there. Pretty bad when you are trying to work and some crackheads steal your vehicle. Of course if the crackheads actually worked they might not have been around to steal it ! trash.

Some people contribute with their lives, others destroy & devour

People are out there risking their lives trying to restore power and now a vital piece of equipment used to do so is damaged. During a difficult time, vital law enforcement and medical resources are being wasted on these two morons. Next time some publication is crying about the state's former Eugenics practices, remember that its purpose was to prevent the existence of idiots such as these two.

"Thurston says the truck hit an apartment complex as Lee ran into a nearby home, sending the folks inside running scared."
I hope a home invasion charge is on the list of charges.

Maybe the lineman should

Maybe the lineman should have simply taken the keys out of the switch. Bet he (and all the rest) will from now on.

Maybe you should try doing

Maybe you should try doing their job with little or no sleep. Than see if you can remember every little detail. I do this type of work! After so many hours with little or no sleep the key's weren't not on their mind. Been there!

I'll bet they (keys) will be

I'll bet they (keys) will be on his mind every time he parks from now on.


I guess he figured seems he was right there at the truck no one would bother it...... Some people are more trusting than others, then you have to realize where he was.

Maple Hill

The best thing for the maple hill area is a coordinated air strike by some of our fly boys in Jacksonville.....Im just sayin....

Why would you condemn an

Why would you condemn an entire area that way for a few? Not everyone from there are what you would call "bad apples". You should think about that...