MANATEE — Authorities are investigating a head-on crash Wednesday that ended a chase between a man and his suspected drug dealers, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.
A total of four people were hospitalized from the crash between a pickup truck and a SUV in the 5000 block of 34th Street West just before 5 p.m.
Two people were taken to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, one person was taken to Lakewood Ranch Medical Center and another was taken to Manatee Memorial Hospital, according to Florida Highway Patrol.
The Manatee County Sheriff's Office said a man told detectives he had gone to an apartment complex in the 2700 block of 50th Avenue West to buy drugs from a couple. When one of the drug dealers pulled a handgun, the man fled to his car and the dealers gave chase in a pickup truck, according to the sheriff's office.
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The man called his father for help. Coincidentally, the elder man was in the area and joined the chase in an SUV that another man was driving, the sheriff's office said.
The chase ended when the SUV and the suspected drug dealers' pickup collided head-on in the 5000 block of 34th Avenue West.
Before law enforcement and paramedics arrived, the prospective drug buyer took some property from his father's pockets and left the scene. He later returned when he learned law enforcement was looking for him, according to the sheriff's office.
According to a sheriff's office news release, two of the injured motorists were being treated for broken bones and other injuries, and the other two were being treated after they ingested drugs.
No charges had been filed in the case, but Florida Highway Patrol had taken one of the drivers into custody, according to the news release. It was not clear from the sheriff's release which person was in which vehicle.
Authorities had to block both north- and southbound lanes of traffic on 34th Street West for hours.
Stacy Rotollo, who lives on 34th Street West, said she was in her apartment when she heard the crash. “It was loud. I was in the back of my house. It was like a boom. Usually you hear tires squealing. We just heard a crash,” she said.
Rotollo said her neighbors helped pull out a man who was still inside the SUV. She said the passenger of the vehicle had a mangled leg and was ejected from the vehicle.