MARION COUNTY, Fla. – A group of boys ranging from 11 to 16 years old smoked marijuana and went on a crime spree that ended with a fiery, stolen-vehicle crash in Marion County, according to the Ocala Police Department.
Police said they responded to a crash involving a stolen 1989 Ford F-150, a Dodge pickup truck and a red Kia van around 7:20 a.m. Monday on West State Road 40 near SW 60th Avenue.
Through the investigation, police said they learned that Marion County deputies attempted to stop the stolen Ford shortly before the crash but the driver sped off and authorities did not pursue because they saw an 11-year-old boy, two 16-year-old boys and a 14-year-old boy in the bed of the truck.
The driver, a 14-year-old boy, lost control of the vehicle, causing the Ford to slide across the grassy median into oncoming traffic, where it hit a Kia and a Dodge, according to a news release.
Multiple suspects were ejected from the vehicle, which then caught fire, records show.
The 14-year-old driver and a 15-year-old passenger remain in critical condition at an area hospital while the five other boys were treated for only minor injuries, according to the report.
Police said ammunition, guns, keys, credit cards, cash and clothing were thrown from the Ford after the crash along with the key fob to a Dodge Durango that was stolen from a Tampa Bay rental company and left abandoned with a blown tire in Dunnellon.
When that vehicle broke down, police said the boys stole the Ford from a home in Dunnellon.
According to authorities, other evidence led them to connect the juveniles to nine unsecured vehicle burglaries in the Fore Ranch neighborhood in Ocala Sunday evening.
All seven boys are from the Tampa Bay area and have no connection to Marion County. They admitted to committing the crimes while high on marijuana, records show.
The juveniles are facing charges of auto theft and burglary.