Teen driving stolen vehicle crashes in Polk after pursuit, police say

Incident began in Tampa

Police say a teen driving a stolen vehicle caused a crash in Polk County.
Police say a teen driving a stolen vehicle caused a crash in Polk County. (Florida Highway Patrol)

POLK COUNTY, Fla. – What started as a series of vehicle burglaries in Tampa led to a pursuit involving a teenage driver in a stolen vehicle and a crash in Polk County, according to the Tampa Police Department.

Police said they received several calls Wednesday morning and afternoon about items, including a gun, being stolen from vehicles. A witness described the suspect vehicle as a white SUV, records show.

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During one of the five burglaries that occurred between 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m., someone was able to write down the license plate number of the white SUV, which turned out to be stolen out of Kissimmee, according to authorities.

Police said the SUV was spotted at about 1 p.m. on Melbourne Boulevard and they tried to approach it cautiously knowing that a gun had been stolen but the driver fled.

A pursuit was initiated and the SUV drove onto Interstate 4 but as the suspect vehicle entered Polk County, officers on the ground stood down to let the helicopter unit take the lead, according to a news release.

Authorities said the Florida Highway Patrol also got involved in trying to end the pursuit.

At about 1:43 p.m., police said the stolen SUV crashed into a pickup truck at U.S. Highway 192, causing serious injuries to that driver.

The impact of that crash also pushed the pickup truck into an SUV, which then hit another SUV, according to FHP. A 67-year-old Davenport man driving the pickup truck was taken to a nearby hospital, where on Saturday he was pronounced dead from his injuries, according to troopers.

Police said the teenage driver was also taken to an area hospital for treatment and guns were found in the stolen vehicle.

In an update on Thursday, authorities said the teenage driver remained in the hospital with pending charges that include fleeing to elude, grand theft auto and auto burglary.

Troopers said the two other Orlando men -- ages 18 and 19 -- who were in the stolen vehicle with the driver were arrested on auto burglary charges overnight. Additional charges are pending against all three suspects, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.