Police: Woman steals news van, kidnaps reporter to flee crash scene

A pregnant woman was arrested Tuesday morning after Atlanta police said she slid behind the wheel of a CBS news van to get away from the scene of a crash.

The van was still occupied by a news reporter, who is also pregnant, Atlanta police spokesman Officer Steve Avery said. The reporter, Iyani Hughes, was uninjured when the van crashed in Ansley Park after fleeing police.

The bizarre incident kicked off about 5:30 a.m. while the news crew was setting up to report in the area of Atlantic Station. Nearby, officers were called to respond after a Toyota Highlander wrecked into the gate of The Atlantic Condos on 17th Street, according to police.

The officers had just arrived on the initial crash scene when the hijacking occurred, Avery said. A CBS 46 photographer was standing outside the news van while Hughes edited footage from the back of the van.

“While the police officers got out to check on the wrecked vehicle, the driver of that vehicle got out of the vehicle — unbeknownst to the officers — walked over to the van that belonged to the news station, got in it and drove away,” he said.

The van only traveled about a mile before it wrecked along The Prado near Peachtree Circle.

“The reporter inside the vehicle tried to make the woman stop and pull over,” Avery said. “The suspect wouldn’t do that, so she did the smart thing. She got into her seat and put her seat belt on.”

While police said Hughes was uninjured, she was taken to a hospital. The other woman was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital to be treated for an arm injury. Avery said investigators didn’t know if she was hurt in either of Tuesday morning’s crashes or if it was a previous injury.

She was later identified by police as 38-year-old Seniqua Lunsford. Witnesses at the scene told police Lunsford was acting strangely before the alleged hijacking. She is being held on a charge of kidnapping at Grady’s detention center.

No one was seriously injured when the stolen CBS 46 van wrecked along The Prado in the Ansley Park neighborhood of northeast Atlanta.

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Avery said he is grateful that no one was seriously injured. The incident could have ended tragically for both the suspect and the victim.

“You are just doing your day-to-day job, and things go sideways like that,” he said.

Police are still investigating the circumstances that led to the initial crash at Atlantic Station.

— Please return to AJC.com for updates.

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