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Deputies: Escapee in chase kills driver

Authorities say a three-time escapee drove into oncoming traffic on a bridge.

A three-time escapee being chased by Flagler County sheriff's deputies was driving a stolen pickup truck when he killed a motorist in a wrong-way collision, authorities said.

Christoper Lee Ropp, 24, of Cape Canaveral, wasn't hurt Wednesday night after crashing through tollgates and driving into oncoming traffic on the Hammock Dunes bridge. Donald C. Burgess, 60, of Palm Coast was killed.

Two Flagler County deputies and a Bunnell police officer were involved in the chase, which reached speeds of 85 mph and moved at points onto Interstate 95 and to the Palm Coast Parkway.

Ropp, who had escaped earlier in the day, was first jailed Oct. 18 after a computer check during a traffic stop on Interstate 95 revealed he was driving a car stolen in Brunswick, Ga. He broke free from the deputy but was captured later in Palm Coast.

On Oct. 22, Ropp was being taken from a hospital to jail when he shoved a deputy and escaped again. He was recaptured about 15 hours later in St. Johns County.

Charges were pending in the collision during the third escape. Ropp already faces charges of escape, resisting arrest, battery on an officer, possession of a stolen car, stolen property, marijuana and drug paraphernalia, and two North Carolina warrants charge him with safecracking and burglary.

Ropp escaped with Jerry David Hightower, 33, of Orlando, who remained at large Thursday. They were last seen together at a Bunnell store less than two hours before the bridge crash.

Hightower was jailed in May after being arrested in a stolen vehicle after a chase through Flagler County. He was serving his sentence on a no-contest plea.

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