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Quarrel sent doctor on car chase

A high-speed pursuit through downtown Inverness started Friday night when a local doctor allegedly hit his wife, then drove after her as she tried to leave their house with their children, the Citrus County Sheriff's Office reported Monday. Dr. Robert LaCava, an Inverness gynecologist, was arrested Friday night after four county and Inverness law officers chased him through the Highlands area until he reached State Road 44 and N Independence Highway.

He was charged with two counts of fleeing and attempting to elude an officer and wanton and reckless driving. LaCava posted $750 bail Saturday morning and was released from the Citrus County Jail.

After reviewing reports and talking to deputies and other officials involved, sheriff's spokeswoman Gail Tierney gave this account: About 10 p.m. Friday, Deputy Jim Bergman responded to an assault and battery complaint at the LaCava residence, 8711 E Cresco Lane.

LaCava allegedly struck his wife, Suzanne Dorothy LaCava, 40.

No battery or spouse abuse charges were filed in the case.

Bergman arrived at the home and explained to Mrs. LaCava the options she could pursue. It was decided that LaCava would stay at the home, and Mrs. LaCava would stay with the children at a friend's house.

But shortly after Bergman and Mrs. LaCava left, LaCava followed her in his 1988 Acura. The chase began when Bergman tried unsuccessfully to get LaCava to stop his car.

Reports say that LaCava drove faster than 50 mph as he raced through downtown Inverness and the Highlands. At one point he pulled to the side of U.S. 41, then struck Bergman's patrol vehicle when he turned back onto the road.

LaCava is one of two local doctors who delivers babies at Citrus Memorial Hospital. A hospital official said Monday that the arrest would not have an effect on the doctor's position.

There has been "no change in his status on the medical staff," hospital spokesman Jay Riffe said.