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Restaurant bill walkout was beginning of chase

(ran PW, PS editions)

A 24-year-old was arrested early Friday after he left Denny's restaurant without paying his bill, almost ran over his server in the parking lot and then led Hernando County deputies on a chase into Pasco County, where he crashed into a patrol car, authorities said.

Stephen F. Perry of Oakland Park in Broward County was charged with fleeing from officers, resisting arrest, defrauding an innkeeper and aggravated assault.

Authorities said when Perry left Denny's on Commercial Way without paying, his server tried to wave him down in the parking lot. She said Perry hit the gas and drove toward her, forcing her to jump out of the way.

At 1 a.m., several Hernando deputies traveling about 100 mph followed Perry into Pasco County, where other deputies joined the chase.

Pasco deputies placed spikes in front of Perry's car that flattened his tire, authorities said. He kept driving and slammed into a police cruiser before stopping on a dead-end street.

Authorities said Perry got out of the car and ran, as several deputies chased him. Perry then saw an officer in front of him and fell to the ground, authorities said.

Perry was driving a 2001 Mercury Mountaineer that had been reported stolen from Broward County, authorities said.

He was held Friday in lieu of $65,750 bail at the Pasco County Jail, according to a spokesman.