Police say a Haywood County man stole an MB Haynes bucket truck in Buncombe County and led law enforcement in a four-county chase last Thursday morning.
Law enforcement from Haywood, Jackson and Swain counties and N.C. Highway Patrol pursued Daniel Gregory Whelan, 31, until he crashed the truck in Swain County about a mile from the Macon County line, local and state officials said.
Haywood County law enforcement received a “Be on the Lookout” from Buncombe County in connection with the stolen truck.
Buncombe officials said they had reason to believe the truck was heading to Haywood. Haywood sheriff’s deputies attempted to stop the truck on U.S. 23/74. The Highway Patrol, Clyde Police Department and Waynesville Police Department took part as well.
The chase occurred largely on U.S. 23/74, but also moved onto Jones Cove Road in Haywood County for a short time.
The truck eventually entered Jackson County on U.S. 23/74, where local deputies took over.
Jackson deputies deployed stop sticks, a tire-deflation device utilized by law enforcement, and flattened all four tires.
Whelan continued to drive on deflated tires.
The Sheriff’s Office led the chase in Jackson but turned it over to Swain authorities when Whelan entered Swain on U.S. 74. Speeds in Jackson were about 65-75 mph.
Swain County Sheriff Curtis Cochran said the chase ended when Whelan crashed in the Nantahala Gorge about a mile from the Macon County line.
The truck was riding on its rims, Cochran said, with just a small amount of tire material remaining on two of the rims.
Cochran said he was relieved there were no injuries, given that Whelan went through the West Elementary school zone.
Whelan is being held in the Swain County jail in lieu of $80,000 bond on various charges, including possession of a stolen vehicle and felony flee to elude.
Haywood County and the N.C. Highway Patrol have pending charges against Whelan, Cochran said.
Whelan’s Facebook page says he lives in Canton.
MB Haynes Corporation is an Asheville-based company offering “expertise in electrical, plumbing, HVAC/R, commercial security systems, solar, industrial and general building construction,” according to its website.