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Pasco man flees, crashes into pond with kids in car, deputies say

Nobody was injured, but child abuse is among the charges faced by the driver, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.

PORT RICHEY — A 30-year-old man led Pasco deputies on a brief car chase Thursday afternoon that ended when he plowed his car — carrying two children and an adult passenger — into a pond inside the trailer community he was speeding through.

Deputies and bystanders helped pull everyone out of the water, and nobody was hurt, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.

Jonathan Deloach, 30, led deputies on a brief car chase, then crashed into a pond with two children and another adult inside the car, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.
Jonathan Deloach, 30, led deputies on a brief car chase, then crashed into a pond with two children and another adult inside the car, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. [ Pasco County Sheriff's Office ]

But the man whom deputies said was driving the car, Jonathan Deloach, faces a slew of charges: two counts of child abuse and one count each of possession of methamphetamines, fleeing to elude law enforcement, reckless driving and being a habitual offender for driving with a suspended or revoked license. He was also arrested on outstanding arrest warrants for violating his probation on 2019 charges of possession of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance and driving with a revoked license.

One video of the incident appears to have been recorded by a deputy’s body-worn camera while he drove after Deloach. Another was taken by bystanders. They show the chase, which lasted about a minute and ended with a squeal of tires and a spray of water.

Deputies said it started about 3 p.m. on southbound U.S. 19 when they tried to pull over Deloach on a window-tint violation.

Deloach turned right onto San Marco Drive, but deputies said he didn’t stop after they flashed their emergency lights and turned on the siren. Instead, he sped into the Ja-Mar North Travel Park at 6650 San Marco Dr., where a horseshoe-shaped series of roads took him back the way he came.

Related: Times investigation: Pasco’s sheriff uses grades and abuse histories to label schoolchildren potential criminals.

That’s where deputies said Deloach lost control of the car. Instead of turning again, it plunged into the pond. The bystanders who filmed the event cheered as it crashed — then the situation turned serious when they realized there were other people in the car.

“Oh my God, they’ve got a baby in the car,” someone can be heard saying, as a woman climbs out of the passenger-side window and pulls a child out. Seconds later, another child climbs out of the same window.

At least two bystanders jumped into the water and made for the car, followed by a deputy, the video showed. Deloach put his hands up as he waded toward shore. A video clip of the aftermath, apparently recorded on a deputy’s body camera, showed the female passenger being handcuffed, though a sheriff’s spokeswoman said she was not arrested.

Deloach told deputies after his arrest that he knew they were trying to stop him, according to an arrest report, and he said the methamphetamine found at the scene belonged to him.

He was booked into the Pasco County jail, where he was being held Friday without bail.

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