ST. PETERSBURG — A Plant City mother and her 5-year-old daughter found their minivan under assault by an SUV as they left Gandy Beach on Saturday night, according to Pinellas sheriff's deputies.
Jason W. Owens, 30, is accused of trying to block in the minivan, then chasing and repeatedly ramming the vehicle as the mother fled on Gandy Boulevard, officers said.
The victim told the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office that she had never met Owens and doesn't know what led to the alleged attack.
Owens was hospitalized afterward and arrested on two counts of aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, deputies said.
According to a sheriff's report, here's what happened:
The 44-year-old woman told deputies she and her daughter spent the day at Gandy Beach, deciding to leave about 8:30 p.m. But before she could pull out, she said a black 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee tried to block in her 2000 Dodge minivan. Deputies said Owens drove the SUV.
She pulled around the SUV, deputies said, and drove toward Gandy Boulevard. The SUV gave chase and then tried to block her from pulling onto Gandy Boulevard, she said. She drove around it again and got onto the road, but the SUV chased her as she drove north toward the Gandy Bridge.
The Jeep then began chasing and repeatedly ramming the minivan from all sides, deputies said, causing extensive damage to both vehicles. The victim said she turned around before reaching the bridge and drove back to the beach, hoping to find safety with the people she had spent the day with.
Later, deputies discovered that for some reason Owens also returned to the beach, where paramedics treated him for hitting his head on the windshield. He was taken to Northside Hospital, where the staff told deputies they were having trouble keeping Owens from leaving his hospital room.
Deputies arrested Owens at the hospital. He made no statements about the incident. The report doesn't say if the mother and daughter were harmed, but neither was taken to a hospital. Witnesses confirmed her account of events, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Owens, of 10400 San Martin Blvd., was being held Monday in the county jail in lieu of $10,000 bail.
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