Coroner: Mercer student dead after high-speed car chase ends in crash

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Erick Guillermo Tapia-Algeria
Erick Guillermo Tapia-Algeria, photo courtesy of Monroe County Sheriff's Department

UPDATE:  21-year-old Sapphire Thomas died in the hospital after a high-speed car chase ended in a crash. 

UPDATE: 21-year-old Sapphire Thomas died from injury complications after a high-speed car crash. Macon-Bibb Coroner Leon Jones says Thomas was a Mercer University student set to graduate in 2020.


FORSYTH, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) —  A Gwinnett County work detail escapee led Monroe County deputies on a high-speed chase on I-75 and I-475 on Saturday.

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This comes from Anna Lewis with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department. She says the incident happened around 8:45 p.m.

Authorities identified the driver as 25-year-old Erick Tapia-Algeria, of Snellville. They also identified the passenger as 21-year-old Sapphire Thomas, of Stone Mountain.

Lewis says Monroe County deputies tried to stop a 2016 Dodge Charger for speeding on I-75 Southbound near exit 183. However, the car did not stop and a chase began.

The chase

Lewis says the Charger continued speeding on I-75 south toward I-475 south. Once on I-475, the car exited onto Zebulon Road but re-entered the interstate.

Lewis says the car then exited onto Eisenhower Pkwy and traveled towards Bloomfield Road. At Madison Apartments, Tapia lost control of the Charger and rolled several times hitting two vehicles and a building.

Thomas was unresponsive at the scene and taken to Medical Center Navicent Health.

The charges

Authorities arrested Tapia and took him to the Monroe County Jail.

Lewis says Tapia escaped from a Probation Detention Center work detail in Gwinnett County. He shows as wanted in multiple counties for multiple warrants.
Tapia also faces pending charges in Monroe County.