Panama City Neighborhood Awakened by Fatal Police Pursuit

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Panama City resident Frank Knowles said Wednesday night's crash was so loud it immediately woke him up.

"Sounded like something fell out of the sky. My first thought was a sinkhole because I've seen it on the news so much. It felt like a small earthquake type thing."

It all started with a police pursuit off Highway 98. According to investigators, the officer tried to pull over the car, but it kept going. Inside was Nikkaro Woodfaulk, 15 years old, Nate Smith, 21 years old, and Shantay Beach, 34 years old.

Troopers said the officer broke off his pursuit as the suspects turned onto 16th Street. Moments later the driver lost control of the car at Louise Avenue. It hit a fire hydrant, flipped over an azalea bush, then slammed into one of the home's carports.

Neighbor Jim Pigneri lives right across the street. The trio missed his home by mere feet.

"What woke you up?" asked NewsChannel 7's Bryan Anderson.

"Just a loud noise that sounded like an explosion. EMT's when they came they ran over there real quick," answered Pigneri.

Investigators said initially they weren't sure who was driving. Woodfaulk and Smith reportedly only suffered minor injuries. Paramedics rushed Beach to Bay Medical Center where doctors pronounced her dead.

"It's scary, but it's more sad than scary because I feel for the victim and I feel for the family," Pigneri said.

Troopers said none of the occupants in the car were wearing their seatbelts at the time of the crash, and they were still trying to see if alcohol or drugs played a role. Charges are pending further investigation.

The Panama City Police Department was referring all questions to the Florida Highway Patrol. P.C.P.D. did not initially release the name of the officer involved, or why that officer was trying to pull over the car.

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