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Drunk driver leads deputies on chase over Skyway and back, Sheriff’s Office says

The man was arrested early Thursday after crashing into a tree and attempting to flee on foot, deputies said.
A Clearwater man was arrested early Thursday morning after leading deputies on a chase over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and back in his Charger.
A Clearwater man was arrested early Thursday morning after leading deputies on a chase over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and back in his Charger. [ Boyzell Hosey ]
Published Oct. 14

ST. PETERSBURG — A 27-year-old man fired his gun into the air before leading deputies on a chase across the Sunshine Skyway bridge and back early Thursday morning, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said.

Haidar Ateia, of Clearwater, is accused of firing a gun into the sky in the area of 66th Street and 49th Avenue N around 3 a.m. Thursday. Deputies heard the gunshots and approached the Dodge Charger from which they were fired. Ateia, who was at the wheel, sped toward the Skyway, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Ateia crossed the bridge and briefly entered Manatee County. He turned around and crossed back into Pinellas County before striking “stop sticks” placed by deputies.

The spikes deflated the tires but Ateia kept driving until he missed a turn at 28th Avenue S and 4th Street S, where he crashed into a tree.

Ateia took off on foot and was soon detained, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Ateia was arrested and taken to a hospital. Two passengers in the Charger also were taken to a hospital. None of the three sustained life-threatening injuries.

Ateia had a blood-alcohol concentration of .142, the Sheriff’s Office said. The legal limit to drive in Florida is .08.

Ateia faces charges of DUI with serious bodily injury, fleeing and eluding, leaving the scene of a crash with serious bodily injury and being a habitual traffic offender.