Driver fleeing Ocala police killed in rollover crash on I-75, officials say

Florida Highway Patrol identifies victim as Evan Ian Smith

By Daniel Dahm - Digital Manager

OCALA, Fla. - A 50-year-old Florida man was killed in a rollover crash Thursday night after fleeing a traffic stop in Ocala, according to police.

The Florida Highway Patrol said Evan Ian Smith, of Inverness, died in the crash, which was reported around 10:35 p.m. on Interstate 75 near mile marker 355.

Ocala police said they received a report of a stolen white Jeep Cherokee at 11:51 a.m. Officers located the vehicle in the 1100 block of west State Road 40 and initiated a traffic stop, police said.

The driver, later identified as Smith, fled and a pursuit ensued, according to police.

On I-75 north, about a mile north of Highway 27, Smith lost control of the Jeep, which rolled off the right shoulder of the highway. Smith was ejected in the crash and taken to Ocala Regional Medical Center, where he died, police said.

Evan Ian Smith.

"Despite all immediate life-saving measures performed by officers on scene, as well as by EMS and hospital personnel, the driver was pronounced deceased at 11:05 p.m.," Ocala police said in a Facebook post. "It should be noted that OPD does not perform pit maneuvers under any circumstances, and no contact was made between patrol vehicles and the stolen vehicle at any point during this incident."

The FHP said Smith was not wearing a seat belt, and it's not known if alcohol played a role in the crash.

Smith has been arrested at least five times in Marion County, mostly on drug charges, according to officials. His most recent arrest was in October.

No other details have been released.

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