ODOT cameras show escaped prisoner chase moments before fiery fatal crash

Donnie J. Thomas (Source: Garfield Heights police)
Donnie J. Thomas (Source: Garfield Heights police)

GARFIELD HEIGHTS, OH (WOIO) - Ohio Department of Transportation traffic cameras captured part of the high-speed chase between police and a man who escaped from the Garfield Heights jail on Friday.

The footage shows Donnie J. Thomas driving at high speeds on I-480 moments before crashing the stolen vehicle on the ramp to OH-176. The fatal crash was not captured on the traffic cams.

Police say Thomas, 34, was arrested early Friday morning for robbing a Walgreens. He attacked a jailer while in custody and escaped from the jail just after 7:30 a.m.

At approximately 11:30 a.m., police located and chased Thomas in the stolen car. After a short pursuit, Thomas crashed into another car and was ejected from the vehicle. One of the cars involved caught on fire.

Thomas was taken to MetroHealth Hospital, where he eventually died from his injuries.

Garfield Heights police are still investigating the circumstances leading up to the prisoner's escape and the crash.

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