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Suspect rams patrol vehicles during pursuit on Florida’s Turnpike, deputies say

24-year-old man arrested

Deputies say a stolen vehicle was involved in a pursuit on Florida's Turnpike Friday afternoon.
Deputies say a stolen vehicle was involved in a pursuit on Florida's Turnpike Friday afternoon. (News 6)

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – A man driving a stolen truck rammed two patrol vehicles during a pursuit on Florida’s Turnpike Friday afternoon, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities said a deputy patrolling in Sorrento noticed a vehicle that was captured on surveillance video during a burglary at Ranger Construction overnight. The deputy tried to conduct a traffic stop in the area of County Ride 437, but the driver refused to stop, records show.

The Dodge flatbed pulling a trailer sped onto State Road 429, where it hit stop sticks deployed by Lake County deputies, a news release said. The vehicle then hit another set of stop sticks deployed by Polk County deputies on Interstate 4, records show.

Deputies said the pursuit continued and the suspect, driving on rims, made his way back to the northbound Turnpike and rammed two Lake County patrol vehicles.

The two deputies in one vehicle and one deputy in the other vehicle were not injured.

The pursuit came to an end at the Turnpike and West Colonial Drive, according to authorities.

Darren Austin Mercer, 24, was arrested at the scene. The items that were reported stolen during the construction business burglary were found inside the truck he was driving, records show.

Investigators said Mercer is being brought to the Lake County Detention Center.

Mercer is facing charges of burglary of a construction site, fleeing and eluding, driving with a suspended license, grand theft auto, aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer and grand theft.

Deputies said he may face additional charges from other jurisdictions.

Deputies said they questioned a woman who was in the passenger’s seat of the truck and she said Mercer was supposed to take her to a scrap yard but he started going the wrong way when he saw a patrol vehicle. Mercer said he didn’t stop when a deputy tried to pull him over because the truck was “borrowed” and his license “wasn’t good,” according to the affidavit.

Mercer repeatedly told the woman to jump out during the pursuit, records show.

The vehicle involved in the pursuit was reported stolen out of Orange County, a news release said.

No further details were immediately available.


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