OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – A man involved in a hit-and-run crash is accused of carjacking a Florida Road Ranger on Interstate 4 Thursday which led to a brief pursuit by authorities before he was arrested, according to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office.
The incident started just before 5 p.m. when deputies say Kevin Applegate, 57, hit another vehicle with his car, according to the arrest report. The crash victim told deputies Applegate began acting erratically and attempted to approach and enter multiple vehicles on the interstate after the crash. Applegate then approached the Florida Road Ranger’s truck and got into an altercation with the ranger inside before forcefully taking the truck, according to the report.
Osceola County deputies said the Florida Department of Transportation Road Ranger’s vehicle was stolen near mile marker 60.
During the carjacking the ranger was dragged as Applegate began to drive away, deputies said.
Witnesses who saw the whole incident unfold described the suspect trying to get into a minivan when the driver stopped to help.
“He stopped a minivan and got in, it must’ve been unlocked and then started to attack the driver,” witness Becca Hanna told News 6.
Hanna said when Applegate took off in the Road Ranger’s truck he also struck the man who he initially crashed his vehicle into.
“I see the Road Ranger chasing after his truck and I look to my left and this poor guy is in the middle of the highway, on the ground, who just got hit bleeding,” Hanna said.
An Osceola County deputy saw Applegate exciting I-4 at Championsgate Boulevard and attempted to head him off with his patrol car in a Circle K parking lot, the report shows. Applegate then accelerated, sliding through the wet parking lot and nearly hitting the deputy’s patrol car before getting back onto I-4 westbound, according to the deputy.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Lakeland Police Department and Florida Highway Patrol responded as well as the Osceola County helicopter to keep a view of the stolen work truck.
“Our sheriff’s helicopter responded to the area and with the help of (the Florida Highway Patrol) followed the vehicle’s GPS,” the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office said. “They were able to pick up the vehicle and maintain visual.”
According to officials, FHP troopers got behind the vehicle and took the lead. Then, Lakeland police spiked the trucks tires causing Applegate to crash near South Blouvard and East Belmar Street in Polk County, according to the report.
Authorities ordered Applegate to the ground but he refused, deputies said. Officers deployed their tasers and Applegate was arrested without further incident, the report shows. He was taken to the hospital prior to being booked into jail, according to the report.
Applegate told investigators he was on his way to Tampa when he was involved in an accident but declined to provide any more information.
Applegate is charged with carjacking, two counts of grand theft auto, resisting arrest without violence and fleeing and eluding authorities.
As of Thursday night, Applegate was still in the Polk County Jail awaiting his first appearance before a judge.