Three teenagers died and one is injured after they crashed a stolen Ford Explorer and hit another driver while playing a ‘cat-and-mouse’ game with other teens.
Keontae Brown, 16, Jimmie Goshey, 14, and Dejarae Thomas, 16, died Sunday morning around 4am in Palm Harbor, Florida.
Another teen, Keondrae Brown, 14, was in the car with them and he survived the brutal crash. He was taken to the hospital.
Two other teens, Kamal Campbell, 18, and Deyon Kaigler, 16, were also arrested.
All six teens had been ‘running in tandem’ after stealing the Explorer and a Chrysler Sebring on Thursday, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Sunday morning at a press conference.
He called the three teens who died ‘prolific offenders’ and said the incident was ‘an unfortunate continuation of the epidemic of juveniles engaging in the deadly game of auto burglary and auto thefts’, WFLA reported.
A deputy saw the two stolen vehicles around 1am Sunday, but was incapable of arresting the drivers. When he approached, they drove away and the deputy did not chase them.
Gualtieri said the sheriff’s office does not trail stolen vehicles.
Police ultimately put up a perimeter, but they were unable to find the stolen cars.
Around 4am, another deputy saw the cars again, this time playing a ‘cat-and-mouse’ game, Gualtieri said, where the cars would speed up and slow down.
The Explorer was going as fast as 100mph when it ran a red light and hit a car driven by 29-year-old Ricky Melendez at the intersection of US 19 and Tampa Road.
The stolen car then flew into the air, hit a billboard and rolled down the road before bursting into flames.
Melendez was taken to the hospital with minor injuries and is expected to be fine, WTSP reported.
The stolen Sebring was not involved in the crash and drove away from the scene.
Campbell and Kaigler, the teens inside the Sebring, eventually abandoned the car and ran on foot.
They were later taken into police custody.
The three deceased teens all have criminal histories, with one who was released from jail as recently as last week.
Gualtieri said the teen in the hospital and the two in custody are expected to be charged, the Bradenton Herald reported.