A suspect who fled sheriff’s deputies and Burlington police during his high-speed attempt to get away crashed the car he was driving into two houses Sunday morning, doing serious damage to both, and landing himself in the hospital where he remains unconscious and under guard.
Jaren Jamar Frank Hopkins-Benton, 27, black, male, who’s latest of many addresses is listed as Durham, had been spotted near the EconoLodge in Burlington.
His actions drew the attention of both Alamance County sheriff’s deputies and Burlington police who began following Hopkins-Benton, who led both agencies on a high-speed escape down Maple Avenue toward downtown.
At a speed estimated by sheriff Terry Johnson to be 100 miles per hour, Hopkins-Benton swerved out at the angled intersection of Anthony Street and Maple Avenue, crashing into a house at 1008 Maple Avenue, where he took out much of the front of the house (see photo), and then hit the house next door at 1004 Maple Avenue.
In an interview with The Alamance News, Johnson defended his officers who he said had followed Hopkins-Benton “at a distance,” because of the high rate of speed the suspect was traveling. Johnson said the pursuit, by both his officers and Burlington police, had been “by the book” and that the accident was entirely due to Hopkins-Benton’s excessive speed.
Only after he was finally apprehended at the crash site was the full extent of the suspect’s criminal record known to the two local law enforcement agencies.
Hopkins-Benton has a long list of previous charges and convictions. At the time of his arrest, he had 29 outstanding warrants, with at least 58 felony charges, in jurisdictions spanning the distance between Durham to Charlotte.
In fact, deputies initially had a difficult time identifying the suspect, who was unconscious, the sheriff explained, because he had credit cards with five different names on him.
Among previous charges for which Hopkins-Benton is wanted, or for which he has already been convicted, multiple counts of some of the following: identity theft; larceny of a vehicle; larceny by an employee; financial card fraud; obtaining property by false pretenses; forgery; and possession of stolen goods, among others.
In addition to previous charges, added to those are the following from fleeing on Sunday and hitting the two houses: two counts of injury to real property; one count of fleeing to elude arrest; and one count of driving while license revoked.
As of Tuesday afternoon, sheriff Johnson said the suspect remained hospitalized at Alamance Regional Medical Center where he was unconscious but under guard by two of the sheriff’s deputies.
Officials are highly suspicious that Hopkins-Benton was under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash.
Asked who will pay for the damage to the two houses, Johnson said that the car Hopkins-Benton was driving is insured by Geico, speculating that the insurer will be called on to pay for the damages to the two houses.
The initial estimate of those damages if $50,000 to 1008 Maple Avenue and $15,000 to 1004 Maple Avenue.
Unlucky curve in the road
This week’s accident at 1008 and 1004 Maple Avenue, which left both houses with significant damage – $50,000 to the first, $15,000 to the second – and the driver unconscious in the hospital had eerie similarities to another crash along the same stretch of Maple Avenue five years ago.
In the early morning in May 25, 2016 another car, also traveling north toward downtown, ran off the road, struck two trees and then plowed into the house at the corner of Maple Avenue and Anthony Street (1012 Maple Avenue).
That house was so damaged by the impact that Burlington’s inspections division declared the house unsafe and proceeded to initiate demolition the same day as the accident.
The driver in that instance – Benjamin Lacy Thompson, 48, of Burlington – was thrown from the car and was pronounced dead at the scene.