Driver Fleeing From Traffic Stop Ultimately Crashes His Vehicle into Uninvolved Vehicle Killing its Driver
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a traffic crash that left one person dead. The crash occurred at approximately 4 a.m. at the intersection of 5th Avenue North and 49th Street N.
Sheriff Gualtieri states that a deputy ran a tag number on a vehicle near 22nd Avenue S and 22nd Street S., which indicated the registered owner had an suspended license
The registered owner came back to 28 year-old John Owa of St. Petersburg.
According to deputies, Owa fled the traffic stop and at that point, the deputy deactivated his emergency equipment. The Sheriff stated a pursuit was not authorized based upon the current pursuit policy at the sheriff’s office.
Officers in unmarked vehicles in the Violent Crimes Task Force (VCTF) continued to conduct surveillance on the vehicle as it fled westbound on 22nd Avenue S.
Owa’s vehicle experienced a tire blow out after striking a curb in the area of 49th Street. The Sheriff states he continued to accelerate up 49th Street at speeds estimated at about 70 miles per hour. Gualtieri states that Owa violated the red light at 1st Avenue S, Central Avenue and 1st Avenue N.
Owa began to then travel northbound in the southbound lanes of 49th Street and struck an eastbound black Mustang at 5th Avenue N.
Deputies say the 2007 Ford Mustang being driven by 56-year-old Donald Young, traveling eastbound on 5th Avenue North, entered the intersection of 49th Street North with a green traffic light.
A witness told deputies that Owa’s Chevrolet Malibu was traveling northbound in the southbound lanes of 49th Street North when Owa ran the red traffic light at the intersection and struck the passenger side of Young’s Ford Mustang.
Young was treated on scene by EMS and transported to a local hospital where he died as a result of his injuries. Next of kin has been notified.
Owa was taken into custody without incident.
Owa was charged with, Vehicular Homicide, Driving While License Suspended and/or Revoked Causing Injury or Death, Aggravated Fleeing and Eluding Police, and Possession of Marijuana.
The Violent Crimes Task Force (VCTF) is a county-wide, multi-jurisdictional task force that focuses on violent crime in Pinellas County. The task force is comprised of law enforcement officers from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, St. Petersburg Police Department and the Clearwater Police Department.
Updated 12:30 p.m. to correct location of attempted traffic stop.
Updated 1:40: Added name of deceased