Deputy saves child after high speed chase


A Columbus County K-9 officer rescued a toddler Tuesday after the child’s father led the deputy on a high speed chase. Multiple charges are pending against Austin Church, 39, who was arrested after wrecking his sport utility on N.C. 904.

Austin Church
Austin Keith Church

The three-year-old child in the back seat was injured and transported to Columbus Regional.

Chief Deputy Aaron Herring said Dep. B. Soles was on routine patrol when Church passed the patrol vehicle in excess of 80 miles per hour. Soles activated his blue lights to initiate a traffic stop, Herring said, but Church refused to stop. Witnesses said Church endangered other drivers along the busy highway even before allegedly fleeing the deputy.

Church lost control of the vehicle and went off the right shoulder, striking a ditch and crashing.

“The deputy immediately went to the vehicle and extracted the suspect,” Herring said, “and that’s when he noticed the child in the back seat. When he saw he could safely do so, he removed the child from the vehicle.”

A passerby said she saw the blue lights “slow down and stop”.

“That’s when I realized it was a chase,” she said.
“The SUV ran off the road and wrecked, and the deputy jumped out and pulled his weapon. At that time I was like, oh no. It’s time for me to turn around.”
The woman had her own child in the car, she said, and “I didn’t want her seeing anything.”
After going back down the road for a short period of time, she returned.
“When I came around the officer had the guy on the ground and was holding the baby in his arms,” she said. “I was so heartbroken for that sweet baby.”
Church was held under $7,000 secured bond, charged with driving while impaired, driving while license revoked, fleeing to elude arrest, possession of drug paraphernalia, resisting a public office, speeding, and misdemeanor child abuse. His address was listed as 396 Seven Creeks Highway.
Soles called for rescue and the Highway Patrol. Herring said Church will face multiple charges. Investigators contacted the Department of Social Services to assist the child, Herring said.

  • Front Page

    Stomach Bug Closes Hallsboro-Artesia

    Hallsboro Artesia Elementary School closed at 12:15 p.m. today, and will remain closed tomorrow due to an outbreak of a stomach virus. The county school system made the announcement this morning shortly before noon. Classes [Read More]
  • Front Page

    Mom’s Friend Charged in Murder Case

    The reported boyfriend of the mother of a woman found dead in April has been arrested. Brandon Wayne Mincey, 41, of Country Village Estates, Hallsboro, is being held under $750,000 secured bond. He faces one [Read More]
  • staff art
    Lead Story

    Two Injured in Monday Shootings

    Two shootings were reported in Columbus County on Monday, but neither victim sustained life-threatening injuries, according to the sheriff’s office. Just after 1 p.m., a teenager reported that he was walking on a road in [Read More]
  • Dory
    Lead Story

    Museum Makes a Splash in June

    The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences at Whiteville (NCMNS) will be making a splash during the month of June as they explore creatures who live on the land and in the sea. Come and [Read More]
About Jefferson Weaver 1386 Articles
Jefferson Weaver is the Managing Editor of Columbus County News and the News Director for WTXY AM1540 & Kool 103.9FM Radio. He can be reached at (910) 632-4965, or by email at