Man now charged with murder in deadly police chase/crash

Baldwin County

UPDATE (1:48 p.m.) — Norton’s bond was set at a total of $245 thousand, $200 thousand for the murder charge.

Norton told the judge, “There is no way I can make bond.”

If released, a GPS monitor will be issued.

Norton still faces charges for rape and burglary in Mississippi.

UPDATE 1/24/2020 (1:35 pm) Thomas Norton, the man accused of running from police and causing an accident that claimed the life of a woman is now charged with murder.

Thomas Norton appearing via video during his bond hearing in Baldwin County

UPDATE 1/24/2020 (9:13 a.m.) — The innocent driver injured in Wednesday’s crash at the end of a police chase in Summerdale has died. Pearley Mae Mason was injured when the suspect crashed into Mason’s SUV at County Roads 55 and 24.

SUMMERDALE, Ala. (WKRG) — It ended with mangled metal and mayhem at the intersection of County Road 55 and 24. Pearley Mae Mason of Summerdale critically injured after being t-boned by a Dodge pickup driven by Thomas Norton. “It was a violent accident and it flipped her car and ejected her out of the vehicle,” says Summerdale Police Chief Kevin Brock.

Thomas Reese Norton

Just moments earlier, Norton crashed through a chain-link fence at a business on Highway 59 after being pulled over for an expired tag. A chase began. Part of it captured on security cameras as Norton heads south on Highway 59. He would later turn onto County Road 24 also known as Underwood Road in Foley and then onto a dead-end road.

“All of a sudden this big white dually comes flying downs Shoots Lane doing 50 or 60 going really fast,” says a man working in his yard nearby. Norton spins around and comes face-to-face with the police. “He turned and went across Mr. Underwood’s field over here, spun out a couple times and finally got back on Underwood Road down there.”

At the same time, Mason was headed south on County Road 55 approaching the four-way stop. “She was coming through the intersection. When he approached the intersection he was at a high rate of speed. It didn’t look like he braked. He was going to try to make it through the intersection and literally t-boned her car,” says Chief Brock.

All of it captured on dashcam video that is currently under review by investigators.

“Chief, why chase him if you know his name, you know he’s got charges? Why not when he started doing that and getting to those speeds, why not just let him go? And that’s usually the case in any pursuit. We evaluate that as the pursuit is going on. Chain-of-command is notified and chain-of-command makes the decision to continue or not and like I said, we were about to call it.”

The chase covered about four miles and lasted about five minutes. Chief Brock says they were in the process of calling off the chase when the crash happened.

In addition to the burglary and rape charges Norton faces in Mississippi, he will be charged with assault in the crash with Ms. Mason, assault on a police officer and numerous other charges.

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