A high-speed chase ended in a crash and the pending arrest of the injured driver on multiple charges Wednesday, according to a press release from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO).
Two young children and a 17-year-old were in the vehicle at the time the driver crashed, officials report, with one of them ejected.
Authorities said the incident unfolded as JCSO officers were working a burglary case in the area of Dogwood Heights, being assisted by the Florida Highway Patrol as well as by tracking teams from Apalachee Correctional Institution and Jackson Correctional Institution.
“While patrolling the perimeter of the scene near Watson Street, investigators observed a male subject that possibly fit the physical and clothing description given by witnesses to the burglary,” the release states.
“Investigators observed the subject leave a residence on Watson Street in a car. While observing the vehicle in attempts to further identify the subject, the driver, later identified as Domingo Morales Hamilton Fernando, rapidly and recklessly accelerated in attempts to evade the Investigators,” it continued.
Fernando ran through multiple stop signs at major intersections in the area of Highway 71 near CVS in Marianna, officials allege, and traveled at speeds well in excess of the maximum posted speed limit on Highway 90 towards the Chipola River bridge.
“Fernando turned the vehicle at a high rate of speed onto Old US Road next to Auto-Zone where Investigators attempted to initiate a traffic stop,” the release continued.
“Fernando disregarded all signals to stop and rapidly accelerated to speeds that well exceeded the posted speed limit towards marked units working the burglary scene. Without slowing or regards for the safety of the law enforcement officers at the scene, Fernando continued past them at the excessive rate of speed.
Shortly after passing through the intersection of Dogwood Drive and Old Greenwood Road, Fernando lost control of the vehicle as it went off of the right shoulder of the road, struck a series of trees, spun around, flipped over and landed upright on the left shoulder of the road.
Fernando exited the vehicle through the front passenger side window, a 17-year-old female exited through the rear passenger side door.
Upon taking the driver into custody, a two-year-old female was located standing up in the back seat. While removing the two-year-old from the car, a three-year-old male emerged from the woods that had unknowingly been ejected from the vehicle.
Fernando not only showed disregard for the safety of the public and public servants, but also for that of his own family. The presence of the children in the vehicle was not known to Investigators until the vehicle wrecked.
Sheriff Roberts would like to make it known on behalf of the pursuing Investigator that if it were known that children were present in the car prior to the pursuit, he would not have given chase.
Miraculously, the children were unharmed as a result of the incident, but were taken to Southeast Alabama Medical Center as a precaution. The driver, Fernando, did sustain trauma to the head and facial area as a result of the crash and was Life-Flighted to Southeast Alabama Medical Center as well where he is in critical condition,” the release continued.
“Subsequently, Fernando was identified through the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be in the United States illegally and currently has an outstanding Final Order for Removal from the United States.
Fernando was currently avoiding apprehension on this order. Agents indicated that he is suspected of being involved in human trafficking and smuggling into the United States illegally. A warrant has been issued for Fernando’s arrest upon his release from medical care.”
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