Driver swallowed cocaine, led officers on chase that ended in flames, police say

By Mariah Medina - Digital Journalist, Rob Garza - Photojournalist, Ken Huizar - Photojournalist

BEXAR COUNTY, Texas - Police say a man who swallowed cocaine and served as a getaway driver for two women suspected of shoplifting from a Walmart on Saturday was one of four people hospitalized following a fiery crash.

Converse Police Department Chief Fidel Villegas said it started around 12:30 p.m. with a robbery at a Walmart on Highway 78. Villegas said two women were seen stuffing large bags with items they never paid for. 

When the women walked out of the store, they were confronted by a manager, and Villegas said one of the women assaulted the manager, who tried to stop them from getting away.

The women ran across the parking lot and got in a white Buick Enclave being driven by a man, Villegas said. 

Converse police officers attempted to pull the driver of the Enclave over, but the driver instead sped down Highway 78, reaching speeds of 80 mph.

Authorities said the man was headed westbound on Highway 78 when he hit a vehicle near a Firestone tire shop. Later, the man struck a Mazda, causing the Enclave to catch fire. 

A woman in the Mazda suffered an injury to her leg and was taken to Downtown Baptist Hospital.

"They had no regard for anyone's safety, and they just kept traveling, endangering everyone," Villegas said. 

Authorities said the driver of the getaway car tried to run away but was apprehended. He complained of sickness, telling officers he had swallowed cocaine so they wouldn't find it. He and the two women were taken to San Antonio Miltary Medical Center.

Villegas said the man was wanted on nine warrants. In addition to his outstanding warrants, the man will also face charges of evading arrest, tampering with evidence and other charges, Villegas said. The two women so far are facing robbery charges, according to Villegas.

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