Three Dead Fleeing in Stolen Vehicle Overnight on Tampa Road at US-19
Update 12:40 p.m.
During a news conference held on the morning of Sunday, August 6, 2017, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri laid out the timeline of events that led up to the crash as follows:
On August 3, 2017, two vehicles were stolen, including a 2015 black Ford.Explorer and a 2008 Chrysler Sebring, from a car lot in Clearwater.
Early this morning at approximately 1:00 AM, deputies spotted the stolen Ford Explorer at 580 and Belcher Road. Deputies attempted to conduct a traffic stop and the Ford Explorer fled.
Deputies confirmed that the Ford Explorer was a stolen vehicle and that the vehicle was on a “hot list” bulletin. Deputies did not pursue the vehicle and lost sight as it fled.
At approximately 4:00 AM deputies once again spotted the Ford Explorer and a blue 2008 Chrysler Sebring at East Lake Road north of Tampa Road. The two stolen vehicles were running in tandem. The two vehicles sped away from deputies and entered the East Lake Woodlands residential area.
Deputies locked down a perimeter and sought the assistance of the flight unit, but were initially unable to locate the vehicles. A deputy traveling westbound on Tampa Road located both vehicles traveling west.
The vehicles were again engaged in tandem in a game of “cat and mouse” while accelerating and decelerating. As a deputy attempted a traffic stop on the Ford Explorer on Tampa Road and Lake St. George, the Ford Explorer sped away at excessive speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour.
The deputy made a U-turn as he noticed the Sebring had decelerated behind him. The deputy was traveling eastbound on Tampa Road in the opposite direction of the Ford Explorer when the crash occurred.
The Ford Explorer was reported to have struck a motorist, 29 year old Ricky Melendez, who was traveling northbound on US Highway 19 at the intersection of Tampa Road.
A gofundme account has been set up for Ricky Melendez. Mr. Melendez is at home recovering but has no medical leave pay due to fact that he just started a new job.
The Ford Explorer went airborne and struck multiple parked vehicles in a car lot on the northwest corner of the intersection and continued to roll, flip and strike numerous fixed objects while still moving westbound on Tampa Road before coming to rest.
The four teenagers in the Ford Explorer where 16 year-old Keontae Brown, 14 year-old Jimmie Goshey, 16 year-old Dejarae Thomas and 14 year-old Keondrae Brown. Keondrae Brown was taken to All Childrens Hospital and the other three teenagers are deceased as a result of the crash.
The Sebring continued south on US Highway 19. Deputies discovered the abandoned Sebring near the intersection of US Highway 19 and Sunset Point Road.
A short time later the two occupants 16 year old Deyon Kaigler and 18 year old Kamal Campbell, who had fled on foot were taken into custody with the assistance of the K-9 Unit.
Both Deyon Kaigler and Kamal Campbell were charged with one count of grand theft auto and one count resisting arrest without violence. The investigation is continuing.
During the press conference Sheriff reiterated how this auto theft epidemic is a deadly game and needs to stop. The teenagers involved in this incident are prolific offenders and were already being monitored by the HOME Unit (Habitual Offender Monitoring Enforcement).
Detectives seek assistance in identifying vehicle and/or home burglaries that may have occurred in the North Clearwater, East Lake, Safety Harbor and Palm Harbor areas that may be related to the teens involved in the stolen vehicle crash the morning of Sunday, August 6, 2017.
Anyone with information that may assist investigators or anyone who may have been a victim of a vehicle or home burglary in those areas is asked to contact the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office by calling the non emergency number.
Original Post Below
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri addressed the media this morning regarding a crash that killed 3 teens and seriously injured another.
Deputies had been looking for multiple stolen vehicles involved in a number of burglaries. The vehicles were stolen by groups of juveniles, one of which just got out of jail on July 31, 2017. The Sheriff called them, “prolific offenders.”
Two of the vehicles, a Ford Explorer and Chrysler Sebring, repeatedly fled from law enforcement officers since being stolen on August 3, 2017. They were last seen in the East Lake Woodlands area and deputies were searching for their location. The vehicles fled from deputies at about 1 a.m.
The deputies and helicopter located the two vehicles playing “cat and mouse” games at about 4 a.m. The Explorer entered the intersection of Tampa Road and US-19 during a red light and slammed into a motorist that was not involved. The Explorer rolled multiple times and burst into flames. Three of the four teens in the vehicle died with the fourth transported to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg. The innocent driver of the vehicle that was struck and suffered minor injuries according to the Sheriff.
The Sheriff states that a deputy following the Explorer was headed in the opposite direction just prior to the crash due to the reckless nature of the driver.
The Sebring was stopped by Deputies and two juveniles were arrested in that vehicle. They fled from the vehicle on Keene Road just south of Sunset Point Road.
Multiple stolen items were located in the vehicles and many of the juveniles had very extensive criminal histories.
More info to follow.
US 19 will remain closed into the early afternoon between Tampa Rd and Nebraska Ave. Tampa Road will also remain closed at US-19.