Photo courtesy of Nile Iverson / The Daily Tar Heel.
Multiple students near the Bell Tower heard a car swerving on Oct. 8 around 3 p.m., followed by a loud crashing sound.
“Everyone was kind of shocked and stood up to look out the window,” said Laura Rodriguez Estevez, a UNC international student from Spain. She was on the second floor of the Undergraduate Library at the time of the incident.
Mazin Majid Hattar, a 22-year-old UNC student, had crashed his car into the grounds surrounding the Bell Tower following a high-speed chase. He immediately left University grounds after damaging $50 worth of University property in landscaping. Later in the afternoon, Chapel Hill Police received a call about a vehicle stopped on the street that was missing three tires.
Around 8 p.m. UNC Police arrested Hattar, who was near his car on Martin Luther King Boulevard less than a mile away from West Franklin Street.
Hattar was charged by UNC Police for vandalism and for failing to report an accident. The Town of Chapel Hill’s Police Department also charged him with reckless driving and speeding.
The high-speed chase started when a Chapel Hill Police officer caught Hattar driving at 93 mph in a 35 mph zone on Raleigh Road to Greenwood Road, said Ran Northam, a communications specialist for the Town of Chapel Hill.
The officer chased the car, but as Hattar drove on South Road the officer slowed down in order to ensure public safety.
That’s when he lost sight of Hattar’s 2015 Ford Mustang.
Hattar drove into the area around the Bell Tower, by driving on the sidewalk and through the hedges. He then hit a metal trash can on the corner of Stadium Drive.
But when Rodriguez Estevez and her friends went to check what had happened, all they found were damaged hedges, tire tracks and car debris scattered around the grass that surrounds the Bell Tower.
Randy Young, media relations manager for UNC Public Safety, said in an email that nobody was hurt at the scene.
“This person knocked over a trash can, but could’ve easily run over a person,” Rodriguez Estevez said. “People walk around that area all the time. It could’ve been more tragic.”
He was taken to the District Criminal Court in Chapel Hill about an hour later, and released shortly on a written promise to attend court for his trial on Oct. 23. The court date for the Chapel Hill Police Department citations are scheduled for Nov. 14.
He has two other court appointments in December and February. In August the N.C. State Highway Patrol charged him with driving a motor vehicle without registration, and in late September, Chapel Hill Police charged him for another reckless driving incident.
Hattar did not reply to a request for comment.
Read the published story here.