A Maumelle man in his early 20s was seriously injured this morning after a high-speed motorcycle pursuit ended with a crash into an ambulance.
Gregory Wallace, 22, was taken by air ambulance to UAMS in Little Rock, where he was listed Friday afternoon in critical condition.
Trooper Rustin Hitchcock of the Arkansas State Police said that the pursuit started when Wallace was observed speeding on Interstate 40 riding a Suzuki Hayabusa.
The motorcyclist didn’t stop, and the pursuit led down the 125 I-40 interchange and onto Skyline Drive. Hitchcock said that he lost sight of the motorcycle as it entered a higher traffic area. Police re-acquired the motorcyclist soon after, and the Conway Police Department began assisting in the pursuit.
Conway Police Department radio traffic indicated that the motorcycle was seen headed south on Washington, then east on Flemming and south again on Harkrider for about three quarters of a mile before the pursuit ended at the intersection of Harkrider and Garland, where a MEMS ambulance was pulling out to head north on Harkrider.
Witness accounts of the crash differed. Two witnesses who declined to be named said that they observed from the northbound lanes of Harkrider that the motorcyclist was going at a reasonable speed and tried to slow and swerve to avoid the ambulance as it pulled out into traffic. Another witness, Sarah Strickland, said that she was in a parking lot just north of the intersection when she saw the motorcyclist going “at least 100” miles per hour — in her estimation too fast for the driver of the ambulance to react.
Another witness said that she was in the southbound lane of Harkrider approaching the intersection from the north when the motorcyclist passed her “going way too fast.” This witness estimated the motorcycle’s speed to be 50 or 55 miles per hour.
The rider landed in a parking lot on the east side of Harkrider, and witnesses said that the crew of the ambulance he struck was able to start attending to his injuries within seconds.
The motorcycle was just over the yellow line in the oncoming lane when it struck the front of the ambulance. The impact was significant enough to bend the front subframe of the ambulance a few inches to the right. Patrolman Sherry Durham was assigned to investigate the accident. Durham said Friday afternoon that her experience in investigating traffic accidents led her to believe that the motorcycle must have been travelling “well over” the speed limit at the time of impact to have caused such damage.
Wallace had no outstanding warrants at the time of the pursuit, and his motorcycle was registered properly, according to Lt. Susan Wilson of CPD. According to Wilson, he bought the motorcycle late last week.
Durham said that she wasn’t sure why he would have tried to run.