Driver who fled from Clearwater police at 100 mph on the loose

CLEARWATER — Police are looking for a man who led them on a 100 mph pursuit that damaged six vehicles Monday night.

Police spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts said the chase was necessary because the driver committed a felony when he rammed officers' vehicles as they tried to make a routine traffic stop. She added that all policies and procedures were followed.

No one was hurt, Watts said. But three cruisers and three civilian vehicles had minor damage.

The driver was in a gray 2001 Chevrolet Impala with the Florida tag 879-XDV, though police noted the driver does not own the car. However, Watts said, the vehicle was not stolen.

The chase started about 10:15 p.m. when two officers in an unmarked car stopped the Impala at 1259 Eldridge St. for a window tint violation. As they got out and approached the car, the driver put it in reverse and rammed the cruiser, narrowly missing the officers, police said.

The driver, who faces a charge of aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, took off, with two other police cruisers joining in.

As the pursuit headed south on Keene Road, two civilian vehicles got in the way, police said. One of the cruisers had a minor collision with the two vehicles. No one was reported injured.

The chase continued south with two cruisers, but as it reached speeds of 100 mph, a supervisor called it off.

At the same time, the Impala's driver made a left into oncoming traffic on East Bay Drive. For the safety of the oncoming traffic, police said, one of the pursuing officers attempted to ram the Impala to stop it. But it spun out and had a minor collision with another civilian vehicle stopped at the light. Simultaneously, the other cruiser in the chase tried to block the vehicle in and hit the police unit that had rammed the Impala. The Impala driver regained control and escaped.

Staff writer Brian Spegele contributed to this report.

Driver who fled from Clearwater police at 100 mph on the loose 07/21/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 8:37pm]

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