Authorities are searching for two men who are accused of crashing a vehicle in Hernando County, then pulling out a gun and forcing two women who stopped to help them on the side of the highway to drive them to Tampa on Tuesday morning, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Troopers responded to a reported crash on I-75 near milepost 296 around 7:30 a.m., the Highway Patrol said in a news release Tuesday evening. The driver had lost control of his car, which hit a barrier wall and stopped in the center southbound lane, troopers said.
Two women pulled over to help, and the two men abandoned their crashed car in the middle of the highway and, armed with a shotgun, made the women let them into the vehicle, the Highway Patrol said. Because the two men left the scene, it is considered a hit-and-run crash, said Sgt. Steve Gaskins, a spokesperson for the Highway Patrol.
While in the car, the men said they had gotten lost after leaving Lakeland, according to the news release. They forced the women to drive them to 138th Avenue and 19th Street in Tampa, then got out of the vehicle and allowed the women to leave, troopers said.
The women, who were unharmed, went to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office to report the incident.
The Highway Patrol and the Sheriff’s Office are working together to identify the two suspects, and they’re asking the public for help. Anyone with more information is asked to call the Highway Patrol at 813-558-1800 or *FHP. To remain anonymous, people may contact Tampa Bay Crime Stoppers at 800-873-TIPS.
This is a developing story. Stay with tampabay.com for updates.