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Suspect tries driving, diving in attempt to elude deputies

Published Mar. 6, 2001|Updated Sep. 9, 2005

(ran SS edition of METRO & STATE)

When three flats stop his truck, the suspect jumps from the Bayside Bridge, only to be plucked from the water by the Coast Guard.

After a 7-mile chase Sunday night that reached speeds of 100 mph, the wounded Ford F-150 rolled to a stop with three flat tires on the Bayside Bridge.

Deputies figured they had their man.

But then he surprised them again when he jumped from the pickup's passenger-side window and over the side of the bridge _ naked except for his boxer shorts.

Jonathan Michael Green, 20, of 6836 Ninth Ave. N, St. Petersburg, splashed into the waters of Tampa Bay about 25 feet below. Inside the truck, deputies found a pair of jeans and a shirt he had shed before his plunge, said Sheriff's Office spokesman Cal Dennie.

A Sheriff's Office helicopter kept a spotlight on Green, who clung to a pylon. A U.S. Coast Guard boat plucked him from the water minutes later. He was treated at a local hospital for scrapes and potential hypothermia and then was brought to the Pinellas County jail.

Deputies charged Green with fleeing and eluding officers, reckless driving, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and obstruction. He was being held at the jail Monday evening pending $6,000 bail.

Green's father said his son called him from the jail Monday morning. He was surprised to hear what his son was accused of doing.

"I know he knows how to swim, but it surprises me he would go to that extent to evade the police," Joe Green said.

He said his son has a wife and two children, ages 2 and 3. He said his son has been in trouble with the law before, but not to this extent.

"He started running around with some bad apples out of the barrel," Green said, adding that his son usually talks to him "only when he's in trouble or wants something."

The ordeal Sunday began about 11 p.m. when deputies saw Green's truck speeding south on McMullen-Booth Road near Curlew Road, Dennie said.

Deputies began chasing but backed off when Green's truck reached speeds near 100 mph, Dennie said. They put a set of stop sticks, which contain tire-piercing spikes, at County Road 580. The truck ran over them but kept going, Dennie said.

Deputies radioed south to other deputies, who cleared intersections and set up stop sticks to try stopping the truck.

They set up another set at Enterprise Road with the same result. The truck also ran over a third set put down at the Drew Street intersection, but the truck kept plowing ahead, three of its tires now slashed, Dennie said.

After striking a concrete barrier on the bridge about seven times, the truck stopped at the bridge's hump, where Green jumped. If not for that slight incline in the bridge, Green may have kept going, Dennie said.

"We were worried about the currents of Tampa Bay taking him," Dennie said.

The U.S. Coast Guard boat fished Green out of the water about 11:45 p.m. Deputies brought him to Mease Countryside Hospital for treatment. He later was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa to be treated for possible hypothermia, Dennie said.

He was booked into the Pinellas County jail at 5:42 a.m.

Dennie, who said deputies followed all proper chase procedures, said the pursuit was one of the more unusual he's seen in Pinellas County.

"It's the first time that we've had to use three sets of stop sticks," he said. "And then for someone to take that drastic of a measure to get away."

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