Adding to the tension: Both Hughes, a reporter for CBS affiliate WGCL, and suspect Seniqua Lunsford are pregnant.
The incident started around 5:30 a.m. just after Hughes had completed a live report and went into the news van to edit video. Meanwhile, officers in the area were responding to a crash reportedly caused by Lunsford.
After Hughes had turned on the van so she could power her computer, she attempted to lock its doors when the suspect pulled open the driver’s side door, jumped in and sped away from the scene, WGCL reported.
As Hughes fell to the floor of the van, the newscast’s anchor, Karen Greer, said she heard her screams as the van was driven away.
“It is frightening when you become the news story as a journalist,” Greer said. “I could hear in my ear because they realized in master control that something was going on so they were rolling on it and I could hear (Hughes) scream and I could hear Jeff, our photographer, yelling somebody just drove off in our car.”
She explained things further in a Facebook post.
Hughes’ shouts for help attracted the attention of police, who tried to stop the van. It eventually crashed a short distance away from where it had been parked, according to Atlanta NBC affiliate WXIA TV.
Atlanta police spokesman Officer Steve Avery told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Hughes had tried to make Lunsford pull over the van, but when that failed, she “did the smart thing” and “got into her seat and put her seat belt on.”
Although Hughes was uninjured in the incident, she was taken to a local hospital to be examined before being released to recover at home.
Lunsford was treated for an arm injury, but investigators didn’t know if the injury occurred during either of her Tuesday crashes, according to WGCL. She was later released and taken to a local detention center where she was been charged with one count of kidnapping, according to The Associated Press.