ST. PETERSBURG -- The 16-year-old driver of an SUV stolen in Manatee County eluded deputies by fleeing northbound over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge Friday night, but ran a red light in Pinellas County, and struck another car in an intersection, killing the other driver.
The driver of the stolen Lexus SUV, identified by investigators as Ramesse Harris of Bradenton, fled on foot and was captured by a sergeant from the St. Petersburg Police Department, according to a report released this morning by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.
Among the charges facing Harris are traffic homicide, aggravated fleeing to elude, and grand theft auto, according to the report.
The narrative released this morning by the sheriff's office reports that:
A deputy was sitting at the 2700 block of First Street about 9:40 p.m. Friday when he observed a stolen white Lexus SUV headed northbound on 1st Street.
The deputy got behind the vehicle and advised dispatch he was behind a stolen vehicle. The vehicle turned west onto 26th Avenue West and accelerated to 60 mph.
The deputy turned on his blue lights and siren at that time. The Lexus then turned north on Ninth Street West. The traffic was light, roads were dry and the weather was clear.
The vehicle continued north over the Green Bridge into Palmetto on U.S. Business 41 until it merged onto U.S. 41 North. The vehicle then merged onto U.S. 19 still northbound and then got onto Interstate 275, and went through the toll booth.
The vehicle continued north over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge continuing north into St. Petersburg staying on I-275 northbound until it got off on the 31st Street exit. At that time the pursuit was terminated by the shift commander and the deputy advised he had shut down.
The deputy made it to the bottom of the off-ramp when the pursuit was terminated and he lost track of the Lexus. The deputy turned north from the off-ramp and made a U-turn back south-bound. Upon making the U-turn the deputy was going to stop and talk to a St. Petersburg police officer, who was sitting at the bottom of the ramp, but the officer took off with his lights and siren on heading northbound on 31st Street.
The deputy then observed several other St. Petersburg patrol vehicles turning onto 31st Street, from side streets, heading north, which is the direction the stolen vehicle went. The Manatee deputy turned around and proceeded north, without his lights or siren, until he came onto Fifth Avenue South and observed a crash scene, where all of the St. Petersburg officers had responded. When the deputy pulled off the roadway he observed that one of the vehicles involved in the crash was the white Lexus he had earlier been chasing.
The white Lexus ran the red light at Fifth Avenue South and struck a white 4-door Infinity. The driver of the Infinity died as a result of the crash. The driver of the white Lexus fled on foot and was captured by a St. Peterbsug police sergeant. The sergeant had been sitting in the third vehicle in line at the light behind the Infinity and witnessed the crash.
The sergeant stated that he did not see any police vehicles chasing the stolen SUV at the time of the crash. Another sergeant from the St. Petersburg Police Department, was the officer sitting at the bottom of the off ramp and saw the Lexus exit the ramp at 75 mph without any police vehicles pursuing it. That sergeant was at the bottom of the ramp to deploy stop sticks when the Lexus passed him. He reported he did not see any police vehicles coming down the ramp for another 5 or 6 seconds.