Cary, North Carolina – A 5-year-old Cary girl and subject of an Amber Alert was found safe Thursday morning after authorities said her mother, a behavioral health patient, injured two UNC Rex employees, stole a vehicle hospitable and took the girl from her home.
Audio of a 911 call released on Thursday shed light on Crystal Beatrice Walston’s escape from the hospital, allegedly in the stolen vehicle.
“We just saw a patient steal a security vehicle. She’s on the freeway and she’s driving crazy and crazy,” the person calling 911 from UNC Rex Hospital said.
The caller then adds, “We’ve got security trying to chase the car. It’s running people over. They need to hurry.”
Police found the UNC Rex vehicle Wednesday night – but neither Walston nor his daughter were inside. Police say she dumped the vehicle in Sanford – and swapped it for a Lexus.
Hero recognizes the Amber Alert vehicle and follows it, calling 911
Thursday morning, a vigilant driver on I-40 noticed a billboard displaying the Amber Alert and saw the Lexus about five minutes later.
Angelica Coffey, who also happens to be a UNC Health employee, immediately called 911 — and stayed on the phone with dispatchers while following Walston for about 30 minutes.
“I wanted to save this little girl,” she said. “I have two children. I would like someone to do the same for me.”
Coffey says she happened to be in the right place at the right time, in part because she left the house earlier than usual that morning. She says she always pays attention to Amber Alerts and makes a habit of looking around when an alert goes off.
“I was in shock,” she said. “I didn’t think it would be the car in front of me.”
Coffey said the dispatcher told her to wait until she saw blue lights behind her.
However, once the blue lights arrived, Walston took off, launching a police chase down I-40 through Johnston County.
Sky 5 video showed an officer carrying the little girl after the chase ended. She emerged unharmed and was hugging a blanket and a stuffed animal. The video also showed a woman, believed to be Walston, being handcuffed and being led into a police cruiser.
Walston received several charges, including:
- child abduction
- Crime speed to escape
- child abuse
- Dangerous driving
- Resist, delay, obstruct
- Charges to be laid for motor vehicle theft pending completion of investigation
Records show Walston was previously charged with second-degree kidnapping, breaking and entering and assaulting a child under 12 in September 2021. She was also previously charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
If additional charges are filed against Walston, they will be dealt with by the Wake County District Attorney’s Office.
Walston’s daughter has been handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services – who will decide the next steps for her.