Cary, NC — 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 hospital vehicle and took the girl from her home.
Audio from a 911 call released Thursday shed light on Crystal Beatrice Walston’s escape from the hospital, allegedly in the stolen vehicle.
“We just had a patient steal a security vehicle. She is on the highway and she is driving mad and crazy,” said the person calling 911 from UNC Rex Hospital.
The caller then adds, “We got security trying to chase the car. She is running people down. They need to hurry up.”
Police found the UNC Rex vehicle on Wednesday evening – but neither Walston or her daughter were inside. Police say she ditched the vehicle in Sanford – and changed it out for a Lexus.
Hero recognizes Amber Alert vehicle and follows it, calling 911
On Thursday morning, an alert driver on I-40 noticed a billboard flashing the Amber Alert – and saw the Lexus about five minutes later.
Angelica Coffey, who just happens to also 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 kids. I would want someone to do the same thing for me.”
Coffey says she just happened to be in the right place at the right time, partially because she left home that morning earlier than usual. She says she always pays attention to Amber Alerts, and makes a habit of looking around at her surroundings when an alert goes out.
“I was in shock,” she said. “I didn’t think this 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, starting a police chase down I-40 through Johnston County.
Sky 5 video showed an officer carrying the little girl after the chase was over. She appeared unharmed and was hugging a blanket and a stuffed animal. The video also showed a woman, believed to be Walston, being handcuffed and guided into a police car.
Walston was issued multiple charges, including:
- child abduction
- Felony speed to escape
- Misdemeanor child abuse
- Reckless driving
- Resist, delay, block
- Charges will be taken out for Larceny of Motor Vehicle pending completion of the investigation
Records show Walston was previously charged with second-degree kidnapping, breaking and entering, and assault on a child under 12 in September of 2021. She has also been previously charged with contributing to the deliquincy of a juvenile.
If any additional charges will be filed against Walston, they will be handled by the Wake County District Attorney’s Office.
Walston’s daughter has been turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services – who will decide the next steps for her.