HALLSBORO - A robbery suspect fleeing from deputies caused an auto crash that killed a Chadbourn woman Thursday afternoon, Capt. David Nobles of the Columbus County Sheriff's Office said.
Joye Campbell, 56, was killed instantly in the crash just after 4 p.m. on U.S. 74-76 at Hallsboro Road, Nobles said.
Lloyd Thomas Buffkin, 32, of Sidney Cherry Grove Road in Tabor City, was charged Thursday night with murder, common law robbery, and assault on a government official, Nobles said. Buffkin was held without bail at the Columbus County Detention Center in Whiteville.
A deputy who was taking Buffkin to the hospital after the crash was attacked in the patrol car and fended off efforts to get to her handgun, Nobles said.
No one was injured in the robbery, in which about $500 in cash was taken, Nobles said. He said deputies recovered money in Buffkin's truck, and a cash register drawer apparently tossed as he fled from the store.
Nobles said Buffkin was inside the Master Mart convenience store on N.C. 130 at Old Dock for about an hour before reaching across the counter and snatching the cash register drawer and its contents just before 2 p.m. Thursday.
Taking the drawer and money, Nobles said, Buffkin fled the store in his black Chevrolet truck, cutting quickly over to Hallsboro Road and heading north, to Hallsboro.
Deputies responding to the robbery came down N.C. 130 and headed to Hallsboro Road at Hallsboro where they met the truck south of old U.S. 74.
Deputy Jason Soles was at the stoplight at Hallsboro Road and Old U.S. 74 when the truck sped across, Nobles said.
"He (Soles) said the truck was going close to 100 (mph)," Nobles said.
The driver apparently never slowed as he approached the divided, four-lane U.S. 74-76, headed north. Campbell's small car was headed west when the truck slammed into her, Nobles said.
Both vehicles continued to the north, and both struck another car with a man and a woman inside who suffered minor injuries, Nobles said. Both Campbell's car and the suspects came to rest nearby.
Buffkin was complaining of pain in a wrist and was taken to Columbus Regional Healthcare in Whiteville in the back of a patrol car, Nobles said.
As Deputy Melanie Avant stopped to make a left turn at the hospital's emergency entrance, Buffkin launched forward, reaching for her handgun, which was secure in her holster.
"She was able to beat him back," Nobles said.
Troopers from the Highway Patrol took charge of the crash investigation, Nobles said. An accident reconstruction team is expected back at the crash site today.
The Sheriff's Office is conducting its own investigation and was assisted by prosecutors from the District Attorney's Office at the crash site Thursday, Nobles said.
Buffkin's first appearance hearing is expected today in District Court in Whiteville, Nobles said.