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Pursuit starts in Clearwater, ends with crash in Largo

CLEARWATER — An 18-year-old man was arrested Monday night on grand theft and other charges after a high-speed police chase through two cities.

Arthur Lee Collins of Clearwater had been released a week ago from the Pinellas County Jail, where he also faced charges of grand theft of a motor vehicle, according to police records. Among the conditions of his release was that he attend high school, court records shows.

Now, Collins faces five new charges: grand theft, reckless driving, driving without a valid license, resisting an officer without violence and fleeing and eluding a police officer.

No one was hurt in the pursuit, authorities said.

Authorities say Collins stole a woman's 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee just before 6 p.m. while she went inside the YMCA at 1005 S Highland Ave.

"She was in there just a brief amount of time," said Clearwater police spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts.

The vehicle's owner left the keys in the ignition and returned to find the vehicle missing, police say.

Police say Collins fled when they attempted to conduct a traffic stop. As Collins headed toward Largo, Pinellas deputies joined the chase. Authorities say he then led them on a pursuit along 113th Street and 126th Avenue to Ridge Road.

Traveling at more than 80 mph, authorities say Collins ran two stop signs, plowed through a set of spike strips, or "stop sticks," and began swerving across the road's center line.

Driving on tires punctured by the "stop sticks," Collins turned onto a 7-Eleven parking lot at 11505 Walsingham Road, where deputies say the Jeep bounced off a curb and was headed directly at a man pumping gas.

Deputy Scott Reid rammed the side of the Jeep, deputies say. Police say Collins attempted to run until he was Tasered by a pursuing deputy. Reid's cruiser sustained front-end damage during the maneuver.

On July 20, Collins was charged with grand theft of a motor vehicle, resisting arrest without violence and loitering and prowling.

Following Monday's arrest, Collins was being held at the Pinellas County Jail with bail set at $10,650.

Brian Spegele can be reached at bspegele@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4154.

Pursuit starts in Clearwater, ends with crash in Largo 08/17/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 6:58pm]
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