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4 hurt as stolen SUV hits pickup

ST. PETERSBURG — A stolen Jeep Cherokee speeding away from police slammed into a pickup at First Avenue N and 34th Street early Friday, seriously injuring two of the truck's occupants and both men inside the stolen SUV.

Jonell Wilson, 18, and David Rogers, 20, both of St. Petersburg, were arrested and charged with auto theft, police said.

The two men inside the truck were taken to local hospitals with serious injuries, police said.

The 1:40 a.m. crash stemmed from an officer's suspicion that the Jeep was driven by an impaired driver, said police spokesman Bill Proffitt.

Officer Matthew Hansell ran the SUV's tag, discovered it had been stolen and tried to pull it over, Proffitt said. The Jeep turned right onto 28th Street and then doubled back, this time speeding west up First Avenue N.

Officer Hansell followed but turned off at 31st Street. Police say he was following department policy, which states that officers will chase a vehicle only if the occupants were involved in a violent felony.

The Jeep continued three more blocks to the 34th Street intersection, where it ran a red light and smashed into a white Chevrolet pickup, authorities said. The impact ejected the truck's passenger. He suffered life-threatening injuries, police say.

Although seriously injured, both men in the stolen SUV fled the crash scene but were later arrested, police said. Both are listed in serious condition at Bayfront Medical Center. Additional charges are expected, police said.

4 hurt as stolen SUV hits pickup 07/25/08 [Last modified: Sunday, July 27, 2008 1:36pm]
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