Man accused of leading Hickory police chase ending in deadly crash appears in court

A police car hit a van, killing two people, while chasing the man driving recklessly on a motorcycle.
Chanceler Johnson asked the court for an attorney during his appearance on Tuesday.
Published: Sep. 26, 2023 at 5:46 AM EDT
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CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - The motorcycle driver accused of leading Hickory Police on a chase that ended with a deadly crash earlier this month appeared in a Catawba County courtroom on Tuesday.

Police said 24-year-old Chanceler Johnson was taken into custody last week and is charged with two counts of felony eluding arrest in a motor vehicle causing death, and one count of violating his probation.

Johnson is accused of driving recklessly on Sept. 8, prompting police to pursue him on Highway 70 Southwest near 4th Street Southwest. As the chase continued, a police cruiser collided with a minivan at the intersection of 13th Street Southwest.

Inside the van was Cynthia Lail and her 12-year-old son, Michael. Lail died at the scene, while her son later died at the hospital.

Police said Johnson drove away after the crash.

Investigators had been looking for him for more than a week before he was arrested.

NC State Highway Patrol is investigating the crash and the Hickory police officer’s actions.

Records show that Johnson was booked into the Catawba County Jail on Sept. 19, but bonded out the following day.

He was initially supposed to appear in court on Sept. 20, but had that appearance delayed due to COVID. During his appearance on Tuesday, Johnson asked the court to assign him an attorney in a case that is still in its infancy.

Johnson’s next scheduled court date in Oct. 17.

Related: Investigation continues after crash involving Hickory police kills mom, 12-year-old son

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