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Troopers say it was two teens who jumped off Howard Frankland Bridge after crash

The body of a 16-year-old was pulled from the water and an 18-year-old was hospitalized, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

TAMPA — The Florida Highway Patrol released the names of the suspects who troopers say fled from an attempted traffic stop Thursday, crashed on the Howard Frankland Bridge and then jumped into Tampa Bay.

Torren Lee Jackson, 16, of Tampa was dead when authorities pulled him from the water, troopers said.

Joshua Richard Reed-Acton, 18, of Temple Terrace survived but was seriously injured when he was rescued from the bay and taken to a local hospital. Reed-Acton was booked into the Hillsborough County jail Friday where he faces two felony possession of cannabis charges, a felony charge for possession of cannabis with intent to sell, manufacture or deliver and a charge for possession of a firearm during commission of a felony.

Joshua Reed-Acton, 18 of Temple Terrace, was booked into the Hillsborough County jail Friday. He faces four felony charges.
Joshua Reed-Acton, 18 of Temple Terrace, was booked into the Hillsborough County jail Friday. He faces four felony charges. [ Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office ]

Troopers suspect Reed-Acton was driving, but investigators were still working Friday to confirm that, said Sgt. Steve Gaskins, a spokesman for the Highway Patrol.

Neither had a valid license, troopers said. Investigators found 3.1 pounds of weed, a loaded revolver and cash in the crashed car, according to the Highway Patrol.

Rescue crews search the waters of Tampa Bay near the crash scene Thursday.
Rescue crews search the waters of Tampa Bay near the crash scene Thursday. [ PETER TALBOT | Times ]

The incident started at about 4:10 p.m. Thursday when a trooper attempted to pull over a 2012 Chevy Caprice speeding north on Interstate 275 near milepost 28 in St. Petersburg, rapidly approaching the bridge.

The car at times exceeded 120 mph, the Highway Patrol said, passed a trooper and kept going. The trooper gave up the chase at milepost 31, the Highway Patrol said, because the car was being driven recklessly and it became too dangerous to continue the chase.

But the car didn’t slow down as it entered the Howard Frankland. It was still speeding when it crashed into three vehicles east of the hump, near milepost 36 on the Tampa side of the bridge.

Two males exited the crashed car, troopers said, and jumped over the bridge’s concrete barrier and into the waters of Tampa Bay.

A rush of law enforcement and rescue vehicles arrived and blocked all northbound lanes. The bridge entrance into Tampa is one of the worst traffic choke points in the Tampa Bay region, and Thursday’s events only made that worse.

Before Reed-Acton was taken to jail, troopers asked him if he would be willing to talk about what happened, according to his arrest affidavit. Reed-Acton said he and Jackson were in the car when a police cruiser got behind them and tried to stop them, and they didn’t stop. Once Reed-Acton was read his Miranda rights, he said he didn’t want to speak with investigators.

Times staff writer Jack Evans contributed to this report.

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